Can I take a locksmith with me?

by Readers Question

10:43 AM, 10th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Can I take a locksmith with me?

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Can I take a locksmith with me?

I have purchased a property recently but have no keys for it. Can I take a locksmith with me?

The previous landlord says she cant find them.

I have tried to contact the tenant on several occasions but with no joy.

If I give her 24 hours notice in writing that I intend to visit the property to have the boiler checked for a Gas Safety Certificate am I entitled to force entry if i am refused?

I look forward to hearing from you

Regards

Tony



Comments

Mark Alexander

10:50 AM, 10th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Tony

The first question that pops into my mind is how did you manage to view the property before you decided to purchase it?

Please tell me you viewed it, otherwise you have no idea what you will find. It could be full of dead bodies, cannabis plants or anything!

Have you told your solicitor who arranged the purchase for you that you have not been provided with keys? If not, I suggest you do so.

Anyhow, if you serve notice and turn up with a locksmith and a Gas Engineer you will need to give the tenant plenty of opportunity to answer the door. If your tenant refuses entry, you MUST leave.

If there is nobody home you may enter the property to perform the Gas Check. The fact that you will have two independent witnesses with you will also help you if the tenant complains.

Please let us know what happens and we will be happy to provide further advice if necessary.
.

Mary Latham

11:05 AM, 10th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/08/2013 - 10:50":

I'm sorry Mark you are wrong. It may be that the tenant has changed the locks and not given the previous landlord the keys - the tenant has every right to do this to protect their legal right to "quiet enjoyment". The landlord cannot simply change the locks even where there is a statutory duty to perform. The fact that the tenant is not at home is irrelevant he knows that no one can enter because they haven't got keys and he would have a strong case for legal action if the landlord in effect "broke in".

The landlord needs to inform the local authority that he has been unable to gain entry and needs to carry out a Gas Safety Inspection and ask for their assistance. Usually when they speak to the tenant access is granted and during the time that this is all going on the landlord is covered by the fact that the LA has been informed - best to confirm by email to give the landlord a document to evidence what is happening in case there are any issues at a later date. If the LA fail to persuade the tenant - this is rare - the landlord needs to go for a Court Order he cannot just blame the tenant for not giving him access.

In my opinion there is some history here and it could be that the previous landlord has not respected the tenants right to privacy and has forced the tenant to change the locks - if this is the case the tenant will tell the LA.

This landlord has not been given legal Possession and should, as Mark has said, go back to the Solicitor who dealt with the purchase and ask him to address this.

I never buy properties that are already tenanted because I would have no idea what the relationship has been between the previous landlord and the tenant and I don't like cleaning up after other people.

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Mark Alexander

11:11 AM, 10th August 2013
About 5 years ago

I bow to your superior knowledge and experience Mary.

Tony, please ignore my previous post, Mary has over 40 years experience in this sector, I have a mere 24 years. Mary is also a Landlords Accreditation trainer and works very closely with the authorities, I do neither.
.

Adam Hosker

13:12 PM, 10th August 2013
About 5 years ago

"It may be that the tenant has changed the locks and not given the previous landlord the keys – the tenant has every right to do this to protect their legal right to “quiet enjoyment”"

Changing Locks without landlord consent would not have come under tenants right to Quite Enjoyment.

Tenant should ask for permission before damaging the building infrastructure, it could be a liability for the Landlords Building Insurance. In addition to landlords obligation to provide a "defensible space" (yes a real thing) if tenant used a adequate locks.

But, as Mary said - Landlord has no right of entry and can not change locks because they don't have a copy. Need either Tenants consent or evict the tenant.

I'd not bother with local authority if tenant refused entry for Gas Certificate, get evidence and use Section 8 fault based possession under Ground 6 or 13 and Ground 12 if its a good tenancy agreement.

Michael Greenwood

2:05 AM, 11th August 2013
About 5 years ago

As Mary said the landlord needs either the tenant's consent or to evict the landlord.

3:07 AM, 11th August 2013
About 5 years ago

So; here is a scenario; tenant changes locks; but to a lesser standard then the existing ones.
The new ones do NOT comply with the insurance company strictures regarding lock types.
Place gets burgled and tenant's stuff and LL's is nicked.
The LL could have provided expensive free standing white goods and high spec electronic items, like TV's.
Insurance company carries out investigations and because the LL CANNOT confirm what locks were fitted by the tenant; who also CANNOT confirm the lock types, the insurance company rejects claim
Would a LL be entitled to claim from a deposit, items of his that were removed from the rental property and would such deposit be enough to replace all the LL nicked items!?
No I am afraid if a tenant changes locks an immediate S21to ultimately evict if the tenant does not change the locks back again

Sally T

8:05 AM, 11th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Have you tried knocking on the door and introducing yourself as the new landlord. You could explain that you want to have the check done for their safety. If they still choose to decline I am in agreement that eviction is the best solution as you are obviously going to have trouble in the future.

Howard Reuben CeMap CeRER

11:02 AM, 11th August 2013
About 5 years ago

I've never come across a tenant who changes locks before - is this 'normal practice' and if so, I question if there was an underlying mistrust between landlord and tenant in the first place?

We have taken to changing locks on every occasion that one tenant leaves and a new one moves in. We tell the incoming tenants that this a service we provide to enhance their personal security as you never know if previous tenants had extra keys cut and so possibly had their own access if they were so inclined.

This may sound like an expensive thing to do, but, because this is one of several 'added value' services which we provide to our tenants, we have great relationships (admittedly, with an odd blip every once in a blue moon - ps landlord for 12 years, only 2 'incidents' to deal with in all that time) and our turnover of tenants is actually very rare. Most of my tenants have been with me for several years in their 'home'.

I'm not bragging, just sharing what works for me and hope it would work for you too.

Mary Latham

12:04 PM, 11th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reading this again we have all assumed that the tenant has in fact changed the locks. The previous landlord may just have lost the keys, may not have had the courtesy to tell the landlord that the property has been sold and that the new landlord will be contacting them. As I said above the previous landlord may have given the tenant good reason to change the locks if he in fact done so.

Most ASTs state that the tenant must not do anything to interfere with the landlords Insurance - this is an enforceable term.

Surely every landlord changes the locks on all final exist doors at the turn of every tenancy? Neither our insurance nor the tenants would pay out if someone entered with a key. I have spare barrels and I do this every time - the cost is minimal.

I will be interested to see what happens when the rent is due - if the tenant hasn't been given the address of the new landlord no rent is due for payment - thats the law.

If I went into private rented property the first thing that I would do is change the locks I have heard too many stories about landlords just walking in and many landlords are convinced that this is their legal right - It is not.

As Michael said it is the previous landlord who needs to be "evicted" at this point not the tenant. because the new landlord has not been given Possession

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Neil Patterson

9:26 AM, 12th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Mary,

Please forgive my ignorance on this, but can I ask what happens to the AST when a property is purchased while a tenant is still renting.

It just struck me as it has not been mentioned whether or not there is actually an AST in place in this instance.

Many thanks.

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