Tenant changes locks and deducts from rent

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  • Tenant changes locks and deducts from rent

    Owing to a misunderstanding, L entered T's dwelling without T's permission.

    T called a locksmith to change the locks - so that L could not do this again - and deducted the cost from the rent.

    Was T justified in doing this? Or can L recover this sum from T?
    The contents of this note are neither advice nor a definitive answer. If you plan to rely on this, you should pay somebody for proper advice.

  • #2
    In the circumstances I think the tenant is only being reasonable.

    Comment


    • #3
      Changing the locks might be reasonable, but the arbitary deduction from the rent of the cost of a locksmith is in itself unreasonable.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
        Changing the locks might be reasonable, but the arbitary deduction from the rent of the cost of a locksmith is in itself unreasonable.

        Not compared with a complaint for unlawfully entering the property!

        Comment


        • #5
          Grange:
          1. Are you L or T?
          2. Please expand on "misunderstanding" to which you referred. Was L innocent of wrongdoing?
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Grange View Post
            Was T justified in doing this?
            Yes; LL should be hoping that that is all that T has done; i.e. hoping that T isn't going to try and sue for harassment.

            Or can L recover this sum from T?
            LL could try, but might be better off keeping quiet and not provoking T any further.

            Peter

            Comment


            • #7
              As L

              L was not innocent of wrongdoing.
              L entered T's dwelling without T's permission
              L was a new L, having just inherited property and misunderstood his obligations to provide 24 hours' notice in writing.
              The contents of this note are neither advice nor a definitive answer. If you plan to rely on this, you should pay somebody for proper advice.

              Comment


              • #8
                Whoops! I should keep quiet about it if I were you.

                Peter

                Comment


                • #9
                  There is nothing in law to prevent a tenant changing the locks of a property at their own expense, and certainly not if a landlord has entered unlawfully. I think the landlord should definitely back down concerning the deduction from the rent as other posters have said
                  The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was faced with the same scenario recently as a tenant - LL entered property unannounced despite being a let through an agency.

                    LL just turned up - when I was guaranteed to be at work - however next door neighbour has CCTV on the area - and caught him on camera!!

                    Whilst LL in the property agency rang up to say that the LL was putting the property on the market - although I had 7 months to run on my tenancy.

                    So changed the locks - kept the old ones. Paid for the new ones myself - still had to by law let in agency and EAs for valuations etc - so had no control over who copied the keys!!!

                    Paid for them to be changed back when I left.

                    For me it was about my insurance company - because I've had this stuff happen before and my identity was stolen and £4000 from my bank account - court stuff etc happened then - but never recompensed for that from courts or LL.

                    Tenant can do it - but has to restore afterwards.

                    But how stupid that despite doing it and paying so much for it - my case over £300 - I still had to let in LA, and anyone associated the EA selling - and no control over that despite 7 months to run.

                    Have posted before - have raised with local MP - and no reply despite many letters.

                    But I would say if you are the LL - don't push it - if someone has spent that much changing locks - they are serious - and either a) have reasons as I did or b) are a tenant who really knows the law.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Paid for the new ones myself - still had to by law let in agency and EAs for valuations etc - so had no control over who copied the keys!!!
                      Bit late now, but no you didn't have to let them in by law...quite the opposite!
                      Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by heather5 View Post
                        still had to by law let in agency and EAs for valuations etc
                        Which law is this, then?

                        Peter

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          whilst I completely understand the tenant wanting to change the locks in order to prevent any possible reoccurance of the landlord entering without permission, that in itself does not give rise to the liability of the landlord to pay for the new locks and the locksmith to fit them because the tenant did a voluntary act. If this were not so, a tenant could replace all the landlord's fittings he liked in the property saying that the fittings that were there were inadequate/in disrepair etc and make the landlord pay!

                          As far as the tenant demanding compensation for breach of contract or criminal law relating to the actual entry itself which was due to a misunderstanding - it is my belief that a single entry in itself would be insufficient to support a harassment charge because there has to be two or more occasions of transgressions - so no criminal offence and I doubt a court would award anything for one single small transgression causing no actual loss as a civil claim.

                          The danger in the landlord accepting the bill against rent, is that when the tenant comes to leave, he might well get billed again for replacement of the original locks.

                          My own view would be to say to the tenant, cough up the proper rent and you will be shown in arrears until you do and I won't renew your tenancy if there are arrears (if applicable) and if you feel aggrieved by my "misunderstanding" then the court to issue your summons in is xx County Court.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                            whilst I completely understand the tenant wanting to change the locks in order to prevent any possible reoccurance of the landlord entering without permission, that in itself does not give rise to the liability of the landlord to pay for the new locks and the locksmith to fit them because the tenant did a voluntary act.
                            Perhaps; but it would be a brave LL who would try to wriggle out of paying if they'd illegally entered the property.

                            If this were not so, a tenant could replace all the landlord's fittings he liked in the property saying that the fittings that were there were inadequate/in disrepair etc and make the landlord pay!
                            Surely you aren't saying that T changing the locks to stop LL illegally entering is the same as T changing lampshades? It's completely different!

                            As far as the tenant demanding compensation for breach of contract or criminal law relating to the actual entry itself which was due to a misunderstanding
                            Not really a misunderstanding, just ignorance.

                            it is my belief that a single entry in itself would be insufficient to support a harassment charge because there has to be two or more occasions of transgressions
                            Oh right, so every LL is ok to enter their property illegally, as long as they only do it once?

                            so no criminal offence and I doubt a court would award anything for one single small transgression causing no actual loss as a civil claim.
                            I wouldn't like to be the LL to test your opinion!

                            The danger in the landlord accepting the bill against rent, is that when the tenant comes to leave, he might well get billed again for replacement of the original locks.
                            I don't think so --- surely if LL has paid for new locks, the new locks belong to LL and T cannot take them away on leaving.

                            My own view would be to say to the tenant, cough up the proper rent and you will be shown in arrears until you do and I won't renew your tenancy if there are arrears (if applicable) and if you feel aggrieved by my "misunderstanding" then the court to issue your summons in is xx County Court.
                            And when T does take you to court, you'd be happy to stand up in front of the judge and say that you "didn't know" that you weren't allowed to enter the property without permission? And expect the judge to "let you off" because you "only did it once"?

                            You're a brave man!

                            Peter

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sorry DJB, I have to agree with Peter on this one.
                              The LL was in the wrong. That doesn't make the tenant correct in changing the locks and billing the LL, but in this situation I think it is best to just pay up, shut up and learn from the mistake.

                              Comment

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