Advice Needed - Landlord denying access to bedroom

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    Advice Needed - Landlord denying access to bedroom

    Hi all,

    So the situation is as follows: There are 3 students living at the property under an AST, the property however is a 4 bedroom house and upon viewing the property we were told that the 4th bedroom will be available as a spare room, and also that our rent will be increased by a small amount to make up for the landlord's 'loss' of earnings by there only being 3 people - we were fine with all this.

    When we moved in to the house though, the 4th bedroom was locked and we did not have the key - upon questioning the letting agency about this we have received a number of different responses which I will list below.

    1. There are only 3 people paying, therefore you the landlord does not want to give you access to the 4th room.
    2. The landlord does not want to give you access because they are concerned you will sublet that extra room. (which is against the tenancy agreement anyway?)
    3. The landlord is storing furniture in that room, if you are given access it will have to be moved out and you will have to pay them for private storage of that stuff. (which I found a ridiculous request)
    4. There is no 'legal proof' that you were shown the 4th room when viewing the property [therefore you can't have access to it]

    Some important points to mention:

    There is nothing about this room being excluded on the tenancy agreement. Absolutely nothing. The agreement lists the entire property as what we are renting.
    We had heard nothing about this prior to moving in, the first we knew was when the door was locked.

    Can anyone offer some advice as to this situation? I'm concerned that if we make too much of a fuss that the landlord might just try and evict us - I've heard that this isn't too hard to do with an AST - should I tread carefully when complaining?

    I have several points which I would like to tell the letting agency/landlord, however I'm not 100% sure if I'm correct on the following:

    1. If the landlord wants to exclude a room, they would then be liable for council tax on the property along with us?
    2. This would violate insurance policies as we do not have access to that room in an emergency
    3. If the situation is not resolved soon, I will hire a locksmith and get into that room - as far as I'm aware if it's not on the tenancy agreement and there is no proof that they told us of this arrangement before signing, then we have a legal right to access that room?

    How do you think I should proceed?

    Thanks!

    #2
    Under the council tax rules, the landlord is responsible for all the council tax, if they haven't let 100% of the property to one (possibly joint) tenant.

    I think I would want paperwork that was clear that you did have access to the room, before breaking into it.

    Comment


      #3
      In your shoes I would write (yes, WRITE - or email, keep copy) to landlord, copy any agent, pointing out your tenancy agreement excludes nothing - but you might agree to... (choose...)
      - to agree to a change of terms subject to 20% off the rent (he won't realise he'll become liable for Council tax..)
      - not to pursue legal action if he supplies key within 4 working days...
      - etc etc etc


      One way or another there should be £££££ in this for you...

      'sfunny: I have a 4-bed student house: Last academic year it was rented by 2 ladies: They had access to the whole place: afaik (I needed access quite often for building word & agent did regular inspections) they never sublet, albeit they probably could have....
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        If you are three unrelated students then isn't the house an HMO? If so the landlord is responsible for council tax notwithstanding the fact that as students there should be no council tax liability in the first place.

        Comment


          #5
          "There is nothing about this room being excluded on the tenancy agreement. Absolutely nothing. The agreement lists the entire property as what we are renting."

          That is the key point. Tell the agent that there is no doubt that you are entitled to have use of the room and insist on being supplied with a key.

          Comment


            #6

            1. There are only 3 people paying, therefore you the landlord does not want to give you access to the 4th room.
            Unfortunately, that's not the landlords choice. If the landlord has let the entire property to you and one room is not available, they're a) committing an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 - which is a criminal offence.

            Part 1 section 2 "If any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so, he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that he believed, and had reasonable cause to believe, that the residential occupier had ceased to reside in the premises." (Thanks to whoever pointed that out this morning in a different thread!)

            They are also in breach of their tenancy agreement - you are paying the agreed rent for the property.

            2. The landlord does not want to give you access because they are concerned you will sublet that extra room. (which is against the tenancy agreement anyway?)
            Again, as above, not the landlord's choice.
            3. The landlord is storing furniture in that room, if you are given access it will have to be moved out and you will have to pay them for private storage of that stuff. (which I found a ridiculous request)
            The costs would be the landlords and they have no basis to pass them on to you. You actually have every right to require the landlord to remove their belongings in a reasonable time and if they don't, dispose of them. Google involumtary bailee.
            4. There is no 'legal proof' that you were shown the 4th room when viewing the property [therefore you can't have access to it
            The burden of proof is on the agent or landlord to prove that you were told that the room was excluded. It would be a misleading omission under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008​​​​​​.​

            Originally posted by td56 View Post
            Can anyone offer some advice as to this situation? I'm concerned that if we make too much of a fuss that the landlord might just try and evict us - I've heard that this isn't too hard to do with an AST - should I tread carefully when complaining?


            1. If the landlord wants to exclude a room, they would then be liable for council tax on the property along with us?
            2. This would violate insurance policies as we do not have access to that room in an emergency
            3. If the situation is not resolved soon, I will hire a locksmith and get into that room - as far as I'm aware if it's not on the tenancy agreement and there is no proof that they told us of this arrangement before signing, then we have a legal right to access that room?

            How do you think I should proceed?
            Check your tenancy agreement, student leases usually have a 10 or 12 month fixed term. Unless you are in breach of the agreement yourselves or stop paying rent, it's almost impossible to evict you within that fixed term. If you're safe...

            I would suggest that the landlord or agent take some legal advice, on the basis that you have (they don't know it was only here) and are considering suing them for compensation for your loss, you expected a room to store things and work in and its been denied you.

            1. The landlord is liable for the council tax anyway.
            2. If you have insurance it's up to you to check it out. The landlord doesn't have to be insured at all.
            3. You are right (and see above).

            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 jpkeates View Post
              (they don't know it was only here)
              Only here! We are more reliable than many self-proclaimed landlord and tenant lawyers.

              Comment


                #8
                Hey guys, wow thanks for all the responses! Especially jpkeates, we've been looking for some basis in law that what they are doing is wrong and it seems like you've found it so much appreciated!

                I think our course of action is unless we hear anything more today, to send an email tomorrow outlining these points and give them say a week to sort it out or we will look into legal action, hopefully it's enough to get them to unlock it for us.

                I'll be sure to update you all when I hear more

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                  Only here! We are more reliable than many self-proclaimed landlord and tenant lawyers.
                  You may be* - turns out I can't even spell involuntary.

                  *Actually, you are!
                  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
                    My understanding is that this is a single joint tenancy, not three individual tenancies. It is on that basis that the tenants would be responsible for council tax if the fourth bedroom were included.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      your legal rights are clear and the landlord would find it very difficult to evict you. However some landlords do like a reference and obviously this landlord will not give you a goo one if you make too much fuss. They can also make your life difficult over repairs (you have legal rights but it takes time and sometimes money to enforce them). So always best to try and be reasonable at first - do you need the room or are you OK with no access if rent is reduced?

                      Comment

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