Dead-bolting a communal front door in a tenanted property? Legal?

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    Dead-bolting a communal front door in a tenanted property? Legal?

    Hi, is it illegal to dead-bolt a communal front door from inside in a tenanted building?

    I rent a 1 bed first floor flat in central London on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (private rental sector). It's in desperately bad condition (really seriously bad) and a tinder box of dry wood and threadbare carpets. The property use to be the sole home of the elderly gentleman (in his mid-80's) who now lives on the ground floor. He recently he sold the entire property to his son who lives overseas. Inside the property has been converted into 3 self contained flats (one home on each floor). I live in the first floor self contained flat.

    Unfortunately the old chap seems to think of the entire property as still being all his own. He ignores that there is a tenant now living in the building too,... a tenant who pays rent and has legal rights. I suspect he thinks of me as some kind of annoying lodger in his house. Trouble is he keeps locking and then bolting the communal front door from the inside. He does this (24/7) thus preventing me from having unhindered access and entry (as my estate agent referred to it). It means I have to trudge up and down flights of stairs every time I need to let my visitors in. The dangers the dead-bolted communal front door poses are very real and significant. In the event of a fire or emergency nobody would not get into the building without a chainsaw or bulldozer.

    I live on the first floor and there isn't any other means of escape. And besides obvious health and safety fears I naturally expect to let my visitors into the building using only my first floor intercom. Aren't I legally entitled to do that? When the old guy bolts the front door at I'm unable to open the main door from upstairs. I have a serious heart condition so I can't schlep up and down stairs to open and close the communal front door 24/7.

    What are my rights? Can somebody please advise me?
    A friend said that in a tenanted property the main front door must only have a single action slip lock and nothing more - and definitely no bolts or Fort Knox style nonsense. Is that true? Am I entitled to ask the elderly gentleman to stop bolting the front door?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by SW7-guy-48; 12-06-2019, 16:57 PM. Reason: Shortened it.

    The fire brigade will break it down if they need to get in. No-one else should be trying to enter a burning building. That doesn't mean it is a responsible thing to do.

    The real question is can you open it from the inside in a single action. If you need to operate a second knob it is unlikely to be acceptable as a means of escape and the responsible person, presumably the son, will be committing a criminal offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, by not providing adequate means of escape.

    I also wonder if there has been a fire risk assessment, which might involve another offence under the above law.

    I'm also wondering whether the builders wore stetsons and there has been no building control authorisation.

    This falls in an awkward crossover area between the fire brigade and the council. You should try to get LFB to intervene under the above legislation and the council to intervene under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

    Unfortunately there is a significant chance of a revenge eviction (from which point of view it might be better to address this through the council, as, if they act, that blocks revenge evictions.


      You tell the elderly gentleman that he has no right to lock you out, ( as that is what he is doing ) and that unless the bolts are removed in 7 days, you will have them removed and he will be billed for the removal.
      If you have a letting agent tell your letting agent that you are being locked out (you can come home at 2am if you wish ), If it happens again, call the police and say you are being prevented from gaining access to your home for no valid reason.

      Me, I would go out one evening and come back at 2am, and I assume you wont be able to get in. If so - call the police. Don't forget to wait those 7 days.


        "Dead-bolting a communal front door in a tenanted property - is it legal?"

        Here is the definitive answer to my original question.
        The answer came from an official Fire Inspector for the UK Fire Brigade who specialises in residential Fire Safety Regulations. I spoke to her in person and the answer is specific to Fire Safety Regulations for tenanted rental property in the United Kingdom. Hopefully the info will help a few other people as it did me.

        In a tenanted building with no fire exit the communal front door must use only one lock to open and close it from the inside. That one lock must open the door with one single hand action (such as the simultaneous 90 degree turn and pull i.e. a Yale nob). In a tenanted building without a separate fire exit it is illegal for any secondary locks or devices to be used on a communal front door when the tenant is in the building. Being forced to flee through another tenants home or jump from a balcony or window is NOT considered an accessible or acceptable fire exit. Using secondary locks in such circumstances is illegal. Landlords who ignore this safety regulation are putting lives at risk and breaking the law.

        Fire Safety Inspectors will happily visit your home if you tell them your landlord or neighbor is ignoring this regulation. They have the power to demand entry and inspect common parts and communal areas. You can telephone the Fire Brigade Helpline or call your local council if you want more advice or to arrange a home visit. Please note, regulations may be different for other types of residential properties.

        Thanks for the responses I received previously. No further responses are required thank you.


          Just an observation

          "Jump from a balcony or window is NOT considered an accessible or acceptable fire exit."

          Yes it is

          Page 76 of the Purpose Built Flats Guide states - In flats on two levels: on the ground floor, all habitable rooms, except kitchens, should open directly onto a hallway leading to the entrance door or an alternative exit, or be provided with an escape window or door. On the first floor all habitable rooms, except kitchens, should be provided with an alternative exit via an escape window or door, or open directly onto an internal protected stairway leading to an exit.


          LACORS guide states - Where the first floor is no more than 4.5 metres above ground level, rooms used for sleeping could be provided with access to a suitable escape window from the first floor leading to a place
          of ultimate safety. In this situation consideration of the internal escape route is not essential.


            I see two different issues here.

            Fire regs/advice are about getting out of the property in an emergency.

            Being unable to get into the property (at anytime you want to) is a whole different issue.

            But if sorting the first one clears up the second that's a result.


              I don't understand the scenario. If he is dead-bolting the front door how do you get in? Ever?

              There is no entitlement to be able to let visitors in using an intercom.

              Have you spoken to the guy?


                The obvious person to contact is the landlord.
                Locking someone out of a property they rent is (technically) an illegal eviction.
                Doing it repeatedly is probably harassment.

                And it's just daft, the "old chap" is probably just doing what he's done all the time for years and years.
                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).


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