Dangerous situation - need to know my options

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    Dangerous situation - need to know my options

    I moved into a flat with my partner last January. We initially signed a 6 month contract, and when that was up we signed a 12 month contract. This lease ends on 14th July 2012 and there is no break clause.

    My partner and I have split up, and as I am employed and he is currently not, I have stayed in the flat. We are joint and severally liable for the rent, but I am happy to pay the full amount myself until the end of the tenancy and have transferred all bills and direct debits to my name.

    We had an understanding that he would pick up his furniture and belongings last Friday while I was at work, and leave his keys behind when he was done. He did not leave the keys and is refusing to return them as he has a legal right to them, which I understand is true. He has tried to blackmail me for £500 to get them back, on the basis that £500 of his money is stil in the tenancy deposit scheme, but I'm not going to pay him £500 for a key he could have 100 copies of by now.

    My problem is that based on his behaviour since we broke up, I am not comfortable with him having access to the property. He has taken furniture which we agreed I would keep, so I believe he would have no qualms about letting himself in to take other items belonging to me which he thinks he has a right to. I am also aware that he has been spending a lot of time drinking and getting into fights since we broke up and have no reason to assume he wouldn't turn up drunk and violent on my doorstep. My biggest concern, however, is that as I am employed and he isn't, he could let himself in while I'm at work and lock me out of the house - and as he's unemployed, he could keep me out for days.

    I understand that legally, I'm not in a very strong position. I have had a discussion with the letting agent, but he was very unhelpful and frankly quite rude and gave me no options at all. I am currently trying to contact my landlord.

    What I want to know is, does my landlord have the right to end the tenancy early, or take my ex's name off the lease? Can he change the locks without giving a key to one tenant? If not, is putting a lock on my internal bedroom door a possibility, to at least keep him from having access to my personal belongings?

    Any help would be very much appreciated as I currently feel unsafe in my own home but can't afford to be anywhere else while this tenancy is ongoing.

    #2
    Originally posted by niffsy View Post
    What I want to know is, does my landlord have the right to end the tenancy early, or take my ex's name off the lease?
    Not without a court order, which would end the current tenancy.

    Can he change the locks without giving a key to one tenant?
    No he can't (because they would be denying him access = illegal eviction), but there is no reason why you can't (it is usually a cheap and simple DIY job - less than 5 mins / £10). If you give the landlord/agent a copy of the key, and ex asks them for a copy, they will have to give one. However, in terms of what the agent/landlord can do if you change it and don't advise them, the answer is 'very little'.

    If not, is putting a lock on my internal bedroom door a possibility, to at least keep him from having access to my personal belongings?
    No he can't (because they would be denying him access to part of the premises demised to him), but there is no reason why you can't ask for permission to DIY such a lock. Yo would probably be expected to make good at the end of the tenancy.

    Either of these latter 2 options could result in your ex suing you, but
    a) I think it is unlikely (only you know), he sounds all bark and no bite.
    b) A judge may well regard such actions as reasonable anyway.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
      No he can't (because they would be denying him access = illegal eviction), but there is no reason why you can't (it is usually a cheap and simple DIY job - less than 5 mins / £10). If you give the landlord/agent a copy of the key, and ex asks them for a copy, they will have to give one. However, in terms of what the agent/landlord can do if you change it and don't advise them, the answer is 'very little'.
      Actually, I am having second thoughts about this - he probably can, and supply both keys to the tenancy address (which you would intercept/keep) but I still think he would be under an obligation to provide a copy to ex if ex asked for one (probably for a nominal fee)

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
        Actually, I am having second thoughts about this - he probably can, and supply both keys to the tenancy address (which you would intercept/keep)
        Could OP really refuse to provide key to ex?
        If ex is still a tenant then no-one can prevent him from accessing the property, I would think.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
          Could OP really refuse to provide key to ex?
          If ex is still a tenant then no-one can prevent him from accessing the property, I would think.
          In physical terms, the ex can not physically make OP give a key - but as I said in post 2 he may subsequently sue. TBH I don't know if that would be illegal eviction, I feel it would only be a contractual issue, but I have nothing to back up that hunch.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
            In physical terms, the ex can not physically make OP give a key - but as I said in post 2 he may subsequently sue.
            Ex can equally (and more simply) show up while OP is out and break door/change locks himself. It's his right as tenant.

            Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
            TBH I don't know if that would be illegal eviction, I feel it would only be a contractual issue, but I have nothing to back up that hunch.
            I don't know either, though PFEA 1977 states that unlawful eviction applies to "any person depriving the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof".

            Comment


              #7
              Thank you

              Thank you for your advice, you have been far more helpful than my letting agent so far and I am not having any success in contacting my landlord. I really don't want to go behind anyone's back, break any laws or make life difficult for my landlord because there's no reason for my personal life to cause him any problems. I really just need to know what I can do to protect myself, because all the signs point to the fact that I have good reason to.

              Comment


                #8
                Just change outside door lock, but keep landlord's lock and reinstate it when you move out. (Do you really have to bother landlord or agent about this?)

                Problem solved.
                To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                  Just change outside door lock, but keep landlord's lock and reinstate it when you move out. (Do you really have to bother landlord or agent about this?)

                  Problem solved.
                  You mean as per my advice in post #2? However, as jjlandlord points out, that could be illegal eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. In the real world, it's not likely to happen - but it could. And as you know IE is a serous offence.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                    You mean as per my advice in post #2? However, as jjlandlord points out, that could be illegal eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. In the real world, it's not likely to happen - but it could. And as you know IE is a serous offence.
                    In any case, as I pointed out ex would still be entitled to pick new lock to enter (at least when op is out).

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                      In any case, as I pointed out ex would still be entitled to pick new lock to enter (at least when op is out).
                      Yes, and niffsy would be liable for the cost of putting right any damage (joint & several liability).

                      Depending on the ex, in niffsy's shoes I would ask how would he feel about either taking the property over or her negotiating with the landlord to end the tenancy? She could tell him that if he is unwilling to do either, then he owes her 50% of the rent - as he is a joint tenant, a court would agree.

                      If he agrees to the tenancy ending, niffsy should get him to sign (with a witness) a deed of surrender.

                      With that, she could approach the landlord with a view to either ending the tenancy and walking away (probably at a cost) or ending the tenancy and commencing a sole tenancy for the same property. The latter may also incur some costs, but it would mean with only niffsy on the tenancy then the ex would have no rights.

                      Comment

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