Can I withhold tenant access temporarily?

Can I withhold tenant access temporarily?

10:54 AM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago 8

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A challenging weekend! I have two tenants in two one-bed flats.

Tenant B calls me in a right state to Tenant A, is smashing up his own flat and trying to break down the door to Tenant B’s flat, so much so that B cannot now actually get out of his flat at all so much is the damage to his front door. There has been no argument between them, but B suspects A might be having a crisis. (A prone to depression etc). There is no one else with A in the flat.

I advise B to call the police straight away, which he does, and I do the same.

Ambulances arrive, and they try to get into A’s door. Unsure if A is still in or had left the building. Police/locksmith enter to find A has gone, and locksmith able to get B’s trashed door open, so he can get out.

B leaves to go and stay with his family as he is frightened and scared and his door secured as best as possible. A’s flat door is also secured and police leave saying Mental Health services have been alerted.

The main flat communal door lock has also been smashed up so a new lock fitted. B has a key, and a locksmith holding a key. Police advise not to let A back in via the communal door or give him a key to the communal door and to call them first if he turns up. His is still ‘missing’. Police have noted all the damage and are preparing a criminal damage report.

Police called me again this morning. He still hasn’t been sighted, and they have updated other agencies to this effect, and still advise me not to let him into the building until he has seen a GP/MH assessor/attended hospital or the Police attend the property if he turns up.

B is really upset by this and clearly nervous about going back to his flat until A has been seen by a professional, and of course, if I let A back in without him being seen I risk my property, and both flats being trashed again.

BUT – can I deny A entry on this temporary basis? I can’t MAKE him see a Mental Health specialist or seek help, but at the same time, I can’t deny him access.

Do I contact the Council to tell them about this situation, or do I just wait till he turns up?

Any advice anyone?

Reluctant Landlord



Comments

by Smartermind

11:42 AM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago

Unless A is charged by the police with criminal damage or is sectioned under the Mental Health Act, you can't lawfully deny him access, unless you go through the courts. The police are not empowered to advise you to deny A access. Even they would have to go through the courts and get an ASBO or something. [Not legal advice, just my opinion]

by Mike

14:03 PM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago

Why not? If life is at danger then I would follow the police advice and lock tenant A out , regardless of any other implication, because you cannot home crooks and dangerous beasts that can take an innocent life. Life is more important than housing act law.

by Ron H-W

16:07 PM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago

Unfortunately, I believe the law CAN unfairly "get" you for doing what is necessary for the safety of tenant A. For example, if a fire engine is behind your car and trying to get to a massive blaze ahead of you, and the only way to get out of the way is by entering a bus lane, you can expect to get fined, with no guarantee that your appeal will be upheld.

What I think you should do is ensure that tenant B's keys (both to the communal door and any new keys to his flat) are handed to the police. And that tenant B is notified as best you can (text, email, notice on exterior of door of flat, and maybe on communal door) that he should collect them from the police.
This means you CANNOT be accused of denying him access - and even solves the problem of you not being available 24/7.
DON'T simply leave the key with the locksmith - HOW would tenant B know whom to contact? And what if he manages to convince the locksmith that it wasn't his fault? (e.g. somebody "had pushed him"). Plus, this is not the kind of burden one should place on a locksmith!
ALSO, do put the Council in the picture as soon as possible - they no doubt have a "need to know". But only after you have placed the keys with the police.

(Disclaimer: "IANAL")

by Chris Bradley

17:38 PM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago

I would let him in, and stay till police arrive. You have made a criminal damage report, A is guilty of that and needs to interviewed by police, probably charged-- you will need this as evidence if you want to evict A. Meanwhile reach out to any family/friends you know of A, a guarantor or a family address given on tenancy. A missing person report may be needed, he could need help, or staying with family. He might not want to ever return and the sooner you locate him for that the better

by DSR

19:19 PM, 9th March 2021, About 5 months ago

Update - had a call from Police Monday 4pm stating A is still missing and as he has been identified as 'High risk' the will be considering sending the helicopters out if he is not found by 6pm.

7.30pn call from Police - A has turned up back at the flat and somehow got back in through the communal door (haven't established how yet). His mother was with him. She must have called the Police - they turn up to see if he is ok - he tells them to F off and the Police leave as they can't force him to call for or take medical assistance.

I have been trying to contact A but he's not answering phone or email/messages. I have no idea of the state of the property. I don't have A's mothers number and the Police wont give it to me either.
All I want to do is contact A find out what happened. Clearly I need to get in to see the state of the place - so thinking if I can get his mothers number off him I can arrange to meet them both outside the property. While they are outside I can then inspect the flat. At that point I will be able to determine the next steps. While I am also unable to insist he seek medical help, I will be stating that unless he agrees to seek such help, I will have no choice than to press criminal charges and start the eviction process as without this there is no effort to seek help on his own, or with the assistance of his mother, and I have a duty of care to the other tenant (who is really shook up about this). Without some assurance (and evidence) that he will do this, then it is unreasonable for me to allow the tenancy to continue and I will seek to bring it to an end. It may be that he feels he cannot continue the tenancy on his own anyway, so an DoS may be an option?
What else can I do? Worried that even this approach may be seen as 'leading a vulnerable person' into making a decision where it could be suggested he is incapable of making! - but if he doesn't voluntarily seek help what else can I do?

by Smartermind

10:42 AM, 13th March 2021, About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by RL at 09/03/2021 - 19:19
If the police consider that the person is a danger to himself or others they can get him sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Surprised they haven't already done this.

by Ian Simpson

15:25 PM, 13th March 2021, About 5 months ago

WE had one who was arrested and disappeared in a police car (after several fights with other tenants, after stealing their food, and dealing drugs) . Very quickly changed locks on his room and the front door. When they released him four days later he couldnt get back in. Threatened this and that, but we ignored him. People like that live "outside" the system, and are not going to hand a lawyer £4000 to start a case of wrongful eviction...

by Mp

0:08 AM, 14th March 2021, About 5 months ago

If Tenant A goes to the council they can get an emergency injunction from the courts to forcefully get access back into the property and also threaten to remove your rights to rent out your property etc (threats) unless you give back access. Even when you do they are afterwards not bothered to help us landlords.

What I have found useful is to keep a handy person or a guardian who your tenant will listen to through various means and hopefully go seek help and relinquish your property.


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