L trying to charge £90 for lost set of keys. Is this totally unreasonable?

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    L trying to charge £90 for lost set of keys. Is this totally unreasonable?

    Hello there, currently dealing with a very belligerent landlord from a tenancy i just left. There were 7 of us, students at the time, although this problem doesn't seem to be relevant to the fact it was a student property... so i'm posting this here, i hope that's alright!

    Anyway, after moving out it turns out one housemate lost her keys and has since gone travelling. With the other sets handed back (no chance of getting another set cut) and no chance of finding the lost set we informed L, who is now trying to charge £90 to replace the Yale and cut new keys. I know this is a very subjective situation, and that we are liable and it's his prerogative... but it seems very exorbitant to us and before we either cough up or challenge him on this, i'd love to hear all your opinions.

    Our deposits depend on this, so i kind of feel like they're being held ransom and we're being blackmailed into paying what seems an extortionate amount. Another detail to add is that another housemate is being charged £40 off his deposit for a broken bed frame, and he is currently threatening to up this amount to £90 if we don't pay soon... seems very unkosher. I asked him for some clarity on the situation, and he is refusing to send out a group email about it, so not only are many of us confused about the whole situation but we can't get anything down in writing.

    Anyway, i can understand a landlords concerns for security with a missing key, although i personally severely doubt his credibility and honesty. I had a similar situation last year and a housemate was fined £50 for an unreturned key, which seemed much more reasonable. Granted there were 5 rooms instead of 7, but that's not £40 difference.

    I genuinely don't know how much it'd cost to get done, and whether he's being honest with us - it may not be unreasonable at all. The cost of a professional locksmith and getting 7+ new keys cut may well come to £90. But i'm highly skeptical. Replacing a Yale barrel is incredibly straightforward, a job that could potentially be done by himself in 10-15 minutes... but there's no way to know how he is going about this. I know he owns 10+ properties around the area, i know that he has access to a landlord supplies business that offer discount rates. It's highly likely he has spare Yale cylinders from other properties, it's plausible that he has stock in rotation and wouldn't even need to purchase a new barrel or keys. Of course this is all conjecture and i feel that ultimately we, as liable tenants, have no leg to stand on if we are to challenge this.

    It may well cost £90 to hire a professional to do it, but for all we know he could have it done for half the price and he's simply trying to shake us down. Speaking with him about this has caused a lot of anxiety amongst us, most of the others are now opting to just pay up because they're sick of it and are too fearful to ring him up and confront him about it again, so we'd rather not take it any further with him without hearing from some others first.

    I know there are so many unknown variables in this situation but it'd be great to hear from other landlords and tenants alike as to whether this is reasonable or not. All input is appreciated!

    Thanks!

    #2
    Originally posted by Zog View Post
    Replacing a Yale barrel is incredibly straightforward, a job that could potentially be done by himself in 10-15 minutes
    Quite a naive thing to say.

    That doesn't include time and petrol to go to the shop to buy one, then time and petrol to go to the property, then time to fit the lock. Nor does it include time (quite alot) to stand at the key cutters getting 7 sets of keys cut for said lock.

    Why not just get someone else to do it for you and charge the people who lost them in the first place and save yourself the time, petrol and hassle and then put the bill in against your tax return as well?

    Take it on the chin, split it 7 ways at £12 each and move on.
    "I'm afraid I didn't do enough background checks apart from checking her identity on Facebook" - ANON

    What I say is based on my own experience and research - Please don't take as gospel without first checking the gospel yourself.

    Comment


      #3
      A very fair point, thank you. I didn't consider that and that's why i'm here.

      We would split the cost of course, but still, as a matter of principle it seems exorbitant and the lack of transparency is worrisome. Having bumped into the new tenants, they know nothing of any plans to change the locks and they all have the correct amount of keys. But yeah, i suppose that's his right as the landlord...

      We probably will accept defeat, it's been a nightmare year and he's simply not worth dealing with any more.

      Comment


        #4
        +1

        I take it the lock & key was for main entry door and not single T room.

        LLis entitled to charge for prof locksmith & cost of new lock & replacement keys for all Ts 7 (or 10 if LL & LA require spares). LLs rarely do DIY.
        Would you be happy renting, if you knew one main key was unaccounted for?. Depending on location £90 £12.50 ea) sounds cheap. IMO

        Comment


          #5
          No, i understand the concern for the security for the new tenants. I'm not disputing that.

          I'm perturbed by the price and the lack of transparency. It seems that 'cheap' is subjective - another housemate i lived with last year was in the exact same situation and that was £50 off her deposit. This was in the same area and that seemed like a reasonable charge. No issues there. This guy is asking almost double that. I fully understand he's entitled to ask for it, but where is the line drawn? Other than actually having working moral compass, what's to stop him asking for even more and simply pocketing the surplus? We would be none the wiser as to where that money really goes.

          But i value your opinion and its beginning to seem that this isn't actually all that unreasonable. Thanks.

          Comment


            #6
            Suggest that the cost seems a little high - reference the previous example of £50,
            and ask that they produce an invoice or estimate for £90.

            That's not unreasonable and should take them a few minutes to do.

            Chances are they probably can - a locksmith would charge that to replace a lock on one of my properties,
            unless I had a lot of other work for them to do at the same time.
            There are usually minimum call out fees for lots of work that takes a few minutes - otherwise who'd be a locksmith/plumber/electrician etc?
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Zog View Post
              We would split the cost of course,
              Why should you split the cost?

              The one who lost the keys and has disappeared off travelling, leaving the rest of you to sort it out, is the one that should pay the (not unreasonable) £90 bill.

              Comment


                #8
                and he is going to be bothered whilst on a beach in Bali?
                Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                Comment


                  #9
                  "Yeah, Dave, while you were travelling your missing keys cost us our entire deposit, so there's nothing to give you back"...
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    How was the deposit paid? One amount for all seven of you, or seven individual deposits? You referenced that "another housemate is being charged £40 off HIS deposit". Surely the person who lost the key is liable from their deposit, and the rest of you can just forget about it (unless of course you want to split it with her out of the kindness of your hearts!).

                    Sounds more to me like you're resenting paying because of the experience you've had ("belligerent landlord", "it's been a nightmare year") than it actually being an unfair charge. Why not phone a couple of places and get some rough quotes to replace the lock and cut 10 keys. If they're significantly cheaper, bring it up with the LL. If not, pay up!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Well this is partly true. Of course i kind of resent paying the guy because he's truly been an arse, for lack of a better word. He's unreasonable man, and thus reasoning with him is a rather horrible experience... But that's kind of beside the point really. We just felt like we were being taken advantage of with this figure. I have no qualms paying for damages and the keys when appropriate and reasonable.

                      The only reason we kicked up a fuss is because he wanted to charge the £90 all to the girl who lost the key. Yes, she will be having a fun time travelling but this is irrelevant frankly. Knowing the circumstances, it was more like a series of freakish and unfortunate events that led to her key being thrown out. Most of the blame might lie with her if you want to point the finger at someone, but it wasn't wholly her fault and we don't believe she deserves such a disproportionately high fine... so we either wanted a compromise or we'd split the cost. And split the cost we will - we're all in it together! £13 off everyones deposits seems more acceptable than £90 off just hers.

                      We agreed not to split the cost for the bed frame because that housemate accepts full responsibility for his actions which led to the untimely death of that bed frame. Plus £40 for a new bed actually does sound reasonable, although i have no frame of reference unlike with the key.

                      But anyway, thanks for all the replies - it still seems somewhat high (i just got a quote of £70 from a local locksmiths that i emailed last night) but it's not worth challenging him on anymore - we're tired and we'd rather wash our hands of him. So we've agreed to split it, and make sure we get an invoice just so we know that the money is indeed going where it should.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Zog View Post
                        and make sure we get an invoice just so we know that the money is indeed going where it should.
                        It is up to him if he decides to change the locks or not. You are paying for the 'damage'* you caused.

                        If you still aren't happy with the situation, why not go to the free ADR service (as per the info given to you when the deposit was protected)?
                        90 quid is maybe a tiny bit on the steep side, what have you got to lose?

                        Link to one of the schemes here;

                        https://www.depositprotection.com/he...ute-resolution



                        *I can't think of a more suitable word.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The most the landlord can claim is the cost of having a new set of keys cut. Do not include in that the time the landlord has to spend getting the job done or the amount of petrol his car consumes in any trips involved.

                          The security element is a load of nonsense. If the other tenants had known the landlord wanted £90 they would have got a new set cut and the landlord would have been none the wiser. Apart from that, even if all the keys had been handed back how was the landlord to know that a further set or sets had not been cut? No. If a landlord is that concerned about security he will change the locks with every new set of tenants - and if he does that he cannot charge the old tenants if a key is lost.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            And that's what scares me. So you're saying he very well overcharge us, take our money, and still not do a damned thing, simply because he can? I'm not saying he isn't going to change the locks but surely there is some legal obligation at least for the security of the new tenants? I'm not trying to absolve ourselves of the liability of these 'damages', far from it, but I personally lost a key a few years back and was charged considerably less than even the £50 from last year. This situation is no different. I know it's all anecdotal, but it all just makes me feel like we're being taken to the cleaners by this guy.

                            But anyway, thanks for the link, I'll look into that for future reference. But in this case were not going to drag it out any longer, causing too much stress and anxiety, we'll pay him and be done with it. And just hope that the money is going where he claims it is and that we're not simply lining his pockets...

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Just for the record I should add that if a tenant loses the only key to a property so that the landlord cannot get in without a locksmith it is legitimate to charge the cost to the tenant. However, if the landlord has a key then, as I say, he is not entitled to anything more than the cost of getting a new key cut.

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