Landlord's daughter let herself in. Can we change the front door lock?

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    Landlord's daughter let herself in. Can we change the front door lock?

    I have a question regarding our “right” to change the locks of the front door although the tenancy agreement says otherwise. We live in a detached house and share the gated plot with another house. You can open the gate from outside by typing in a code and from inside by remote control and a button in our kitchen.

    The property is being managed by the landlord and his daughter. They own many properties like this of our neighbours on the same plot, two more next to our driveway and some others in different areas. The landlord’s daughter checks all properties twice a year, in summer and before Christmas. She always announces the inspections by email ca. two weeks in advance, providing time slots which are always in the morning during working hours and says if the tenants are not present she will enter the property by the keys she holds.

    That means if you don’t like her wandering around in your home alone you have to take a day off. We always could arrange being at home during inspections without any problems until this summer because we had an important appointment on that day. Although in the end we managed to postpone it we told her we would appreciate if she would agree a date convenient for all of us next time instead of scheduling a certain day and time slot. We also made clear to her – well, at least we thought that – that under no circumstances (apart from emergency) she is allowed to enter the house we rent while we are out by using the key she holds. We also pointed out ( in a very friendly way though) that it is illegal to enter the tenant’s property without his permission.

    She replied that if we can’t make it next time she would arrange a separate date for us but did not refer to the ‘key problem’. Two weeks ago we received again her announcement addressed to all tenants regarding an inspection taking place yesterday. Although she showed herself willing to agree another date and time especially for us in case we can’t make it she used the same wording regarding the key, means that she would enter the property by the keys she holds.

    We replied that we are fine with the date but asked her to put us on the end of her time slot for inspections this time as we would like to attend the Christmas play of our daughter in school before the inspection. She agreed to that. Shortly after we came home from Christmas play yesterday she came around to carry out her inspection. While we spoke about this and that it turned out that while we were in school she had entered our house by her key to open the plot’s gate from inside. I was so shocked that I did not know what to say.

    I think the words slipped out of her accidentally as we were speaking about the gate and that it would be better to extend the time window after that the gate shuts automatically to help the postman who always needs to hurry up while being on the plot as what I said before you can either open it from outside, by remote control or by a button inside houses. The postman only knows the code and found himself trapped once while neither the neighbours nor we were present to help him out. So he had to clamber up the wall.

    She (the landlord’s daughter) said that it would be a good idea to extend the gates time frames as she also managed being trapped into the plot. I asked her if she means the incident in August when she was hammering our door desperate to get out. She replied ‘No, today while you were in school. I had to come in to let myself out’. Just to clarify that: The button for the gate is not near the front door but in our kitchen. She said she wanted to check the condition of the plot and the houses from outside and take photos. As the plot is not small as well as the houses you certainly need at least 15- 20 minutes to get everything checked and photographed. She also knows that the gate shuts after 2 minutes, especially since the incident August where she found herself trapped. She was also well aware that neither our neighbours nor we were present to let her out. Nevertheless had she entered the plot.

    She had also not mentioned her trespassing at the beginning of the inspection although she was legally obliged to do so. So we had to come to the conclusion that she intended right from the start to let herself out by entering our home. We don’t know how many minutes she spent in our house as we were out for at least one hour and she knew that. In theory she would have had the time to inspect everything, totally unwatched. I absolutely hate this thought and I am really upset and angry. If she had told us straight away about this incident, accompanied by an apology everything would be fine but on the contrary she behaved as if entering our home, knowing we are not at home, was perfectly fine.

    When I take everything into account, means that she is well aware of the legal situation and our feelings but ignoring that completely by using the wording “I will enter the property by the keys that I hold” and doing that in reality, I can’t trust her anymore. This is aggravated by the fact that she would come sometimes to do things on the plot without letting us know. How would I know that she does not come in while we are at work?

    As this thought is unbearable for me I would like to change the front door lock. Unfortunately the tenancy agreement forbids it. So what can and should I do to prevent the landlord or his daughter coming in? Please don’t say we should speak with them again as we have already done it and made ourselves very clear, obviously without a result. They seemed to think that since they own the house they have the right to do so regardless what the law or the tenants say. They also seemed to be in denial that we pay a huge amount of money to live in peace.

    I don’t know why landlords have problems to understand that everyone needs privacy and that it is highly immoral, intimidating, outrageous and dismissive to enter the home of other people without their permission! A home is the only protected place a human being has. It is therefore of particular importance that one can feel safe there by excluding the world. Would you as a landlord like the thought that other people have the opportunity to enter your bathroom, your bedroom, opening your drawers etc. whenever they want? I don’t think so and I don’t want to hear stories about tenants who don’t pay rent but cause damages. I know that such people exist and I absolutely understand landlords who try everything to force them out. However, I speak about and for the large group of ‘good tenants’. And we are very good tenants, who never fail to pay the rent and leave houses in better condition as they were in before we moved in. We also let workman, letting agents and landlords in if they need to do so but we will not accept that people letting in themselves although it is illegal and without letting us know.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    #2
    I did not read your entire post, so I do hope this helps you...

    http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...sponsibilities

    "If you don't want your landlord visiting without your permission, you may even be able to change the locks. If you do decide to change the locks, keep the old ones and put them back in, undamaged, when you leave the tenancy."

    I would normally see changing of the locks as an escalation of an issue, but I would also say it is within a Tenant's rights to do so.

    Comment


      #3
      That sure is one long story.

      In short, yes you can. Explain why you've done it, i.e in light of the recent letting themselves in.

      Out of interest, what role did your daughter have in the play?
      "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


        #4
        I had also wondered this, but I understand the OP's need for privacy so I did not probe into it... you obviously have no such consideration. Bah!

        Comment


          #5
          My daughter? I unfortunately don't know what you mean. It's the landlord's daughter I was speaking about. She is in charge of our property and many others. I only referred to our daughter when I explained that we were in school yesterday to attend our daughter's Christmas play and the landlord's daughter let herself while we were out.

          Comment


            #6
            I didn't read the entire post, as it's much too long. So what I say is based on skim reading.
            In short, no you cannot change the locks.
            Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

            Comment


              #7
              Hippogriff,

              Thank you very much :-). That helps a lot but I am still worried about the fact that the tenancy agreement forbids it and that we would be in breach of the contract if we change the lock.

              Comment


                #8
                If you expressly forbid them from entering the property in the future as you've already intimated and they agreed to, then in theory, barring a proper emergency they should in theory never find out. Unless they try and let themselves in while your not there in a none emergency situation.
                "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


                  #9
                  Sorry to hear about the unnecessary stress your landlord is causing.

                  Regarding your question I disagree, because it is specifically stated in your contract that the locks are not to be changed you have no right to change them. If you do change them with out written permission you will be in breach of the agreement and once they find out you will no doubt be homeless soon after.

                  If there is no mention of changing the locks in the contract then you would be within your rights to change them, it would be courteous to inform them in writing of your intention before doing so.

                  You either need to make the time to be there for inspections and if you can't, be sure to offer alternative dates and times in writing to her so she has options well in advance and state clearly that you do not want her to enter when you are not present. Of course there is nothing stopping you from telling her that there is a portable wireless house alarm in the property? I have a webcam that sends email pictures in our showroom and at home so we know exactly what is happening at both properties.

                  She has no right to enter without your permission but best to sort this out face to face.

                  Good luck!

                  PS. Tenants that make the claim "never fail to pay the rent" that does not make you a good tenant, just a tenant. Also "leave houses in better condition as they were in before we moved in" in my opinion are deluded.
                  Long suffering Landlord.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Goss View Post

                    She has no right to enter without your permission but best to sort this out face to face.
                    She has permission.
                    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                    Comment


                      #11
                      From the Shelter webiste;

                      "Your landlord must not harass you

                      Your landlord, or anyone employed by them, should not harass you in your home, or make it difficult for you to stay there, for example, by entering your home without your permission or visiting at unsuitable times, or stopping you from using all the rooms or using the water or electricity.

                      If the landlord persists, it may be classed as harassment, and the landlord could be fined or imprisoned for this."

                      Goss coming over as the all powerful landlord again.
                      "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


                        #12
                        Originally posted by thesaint View Post
                        She has permission.
                        My understandingly is that OP does not want her to enter unless T's are there to let her in so no permission?
                        Long suffering Landlord.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Goss View Post
                          My understandingly is that OP does not want her to enter unless T's are there to let her in so no permission?
                          The OP has signed a tenancy agreement. The Housing Act gives the landlord permission to enter(the tenancy agreement may state it also);

                          (6)In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.
                          Annotations: Help about Annotation
                          The tenant cannot change the tenancy agreement anymore than a landlord can, without the other parties agreement.
                          Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                          Comment


                            #14
                            CAB:
                            The landlord’s rights of entry

                            Your landlord has a right to reasonable access to carry out repairs. What ‘reasonable access’ means depends on why your landlord needs to get access. For example, in an emergency, your landlord is entitled to immediate access to carry out any necessary work.

                            Your landlord also has a right to enter the property to inspect the state of repair or to empty a fuel slot meter, but they should always ask for your permission and should give you at least 24 hours notice.

                            If you are staying in lodgings where it is agreed that your landlord provides a room-cleaning service or where you share a room with other lodgers, your landlord can enter without permission.

                            Your landlord does not have a right to enter in any other circumstances unless they have a court order.
                            Last edited by Goss; 11-12-2014, 14:14 PM. Reason: Typo
                            Long suffering Landlord.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Goss,

                              Thank you for your statement but I don't agree with you in some points.

                              You say, if the landlord find out we would be homeless soon after. Be assured that we would find another property any time for the rent we are prepared to pay while he quite certainly would have problems to find someone new. It took him nearly 6 month to find new tenants for the other property on the plot. The only reason why we are still here is our daughter’s school.

                              When I say that we usually leave properties in better condition as they are in before we moved in then this is unfortunately true. We nearly always cleaned the carpets, the showers, sinks, ovens and other appliances to a high standard as we didn’t want to live with the ‘remains” of former tenants and we also renewed old carpets and things like that at our own expense. We also never refused entry. Although our last landlord lied about the fact that he wanted to sell the house shortly after we moved in we helped him to find a buyer by letting in prospective buyers several times a week over a period of 6 month. So I think I have every right to say that we are good tenants.

                              Regarding our landlords…We have already spoken with them face to face but as I stated above they would do it nevertheless, a fact proven by what happened yesterday. So what else can we do to protect our privacy than to change the lock? For what reason do the landlords need a key? If they want or need access they can and have to make appointments anyway and then we will be there to let them in. In an emergency case we would always arrive before them as they live 60 miles away. When we are on holidays we always leave the key with the neighbour because she cares for our plants. So what is the point for them having a key? And how can they find out? Actually only by trying to let themselves in what is a far more serious crime than to change a lock.

                              Comment

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