How to handle a tenant refusing access?

How to handle a tenant refusing access?

0:02 AM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago 18

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Hi, as a Right To Manage Company, we are dealing with fire safety issues and many other problems. Such as water leaks, alarms going off, and heating issues that have to be rectified.

We never know when a leak will happen; they are multiple as the developer installed kitchens and bathrooms with loose pipework, no waterproofing, and other issues.

Heating is also an issue due to overpressure, so valves fail and leak, and flats overheat (issued with a warning by the local council for overheating in flats last year – so quite severe).

One tenant out of 100 is refusing to leave keys with the concierge (locked and secure safe) so that access is available should there be an issue – and there have been with things like alarm going off, leaks from above and a blocked soil pipe.

Not having access makes things very difficult, and she is now refusing, having changed her locks. The managing agent for her landlord is supporting her refusal and telling the landlord (overseas) that it is a criminal offence here to not allow a tenant access.

We just need to have ‘access in an emergency’ or ‘access with notice’ – which she generally refuses anyway. Need to say that she has not paid rent in a year – no idea of why she is still there but appears to me some sort of mismanagement by the managing agent who is organising the eviction.

I can’t find any info about changing locks (with notice and landlord’s consent) and giving the tenant a key – that makes it illegal – she will have immediate access once the lock is changed. Be far easier if she gave us a key to her new lock which she changed without her landlord’s consent.

Any advice at all on how to handle the situation would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Harlequin


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Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

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9:53 AM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

The lease should be your guide which sets out the freeholder's (&hence RTM co) rights of access.

Where possibly give occupants at least 24 hours notice. In emergency attend with locksmith

Nikki Palmer

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9:54 AM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

I have read this a couple of times over to establish what it is you need - It sounds like you need access to ensure there are no problems in this flat as a result of poor workmanship from various contractors?
Because the tenant has refused access does not mean you can force entry, change the locks and then give the tenant a new key just so you can inspect inside.
However, properly managed, a tenant should reasonably allow access in the event of an emergency to determine that there is no problem within their four walls and I would suggest the question is asked about when it would be convenient for them to permit someone to go in and work with them rather than against them.
If I lived feeling that someone was going to, in effect, break into my home to have a look around, then change the locks again and give me a new key I would be very distressed and uncomfortable about it.
Rent payments are irrelevant.
Is there a genuine suggestion that somewhere in this flat is the the root of the problems?

Graham Bowcock

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9:55 AM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Your situation is unusual, although all blocks have issues requiring co-operation, usually water leaks.

Your message is a bit confused - is she a tenant (of a leaseholder) or the actual leaseholder? When you say rent is due, is this to the management company or to the landlord? If she owes the landlord, what has this got to do with the management company?

In simple terms, the leaseholder may change the locks as it's their property. If they permit a tennat to change the locks, then that's their business.

It would be more helpful if you set out clearly who is involved here. This posts has the whiff of emotions getting involved, rather than legal or practical matters.

The block manager cannot have an absolute freer right of access into leasehold properties.

moneymanager

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10:59 AM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 03/07/2024 - 09:55
A rental tenant has an absolute right to change locks and doesn't have to give copies to anyone, we generally rely on assumption to deter both behaviours.

The question certainly is confused, I'm not sure why overheating is any concern whatever although if a tenant or owner occ in our building refused access to deal with emergency leaks, the building manager can and have just isolate the whole flat supply from the outside, that usually gains attention.

N N

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12:00 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

It sounds like this is a tenant on an Ast with an overseas landlord leaseholder and a crap agent in the middle.
In general, and past experience you can't force access if the tenant expressly refuses. Even if you have compliant notice.
The other side is if you have documented proof of refusal the tenant is accepting liability for damages that can occur.
It could be worth elaborating this directly to the tenant and leasehold landlord. Bypass the agent. The landlord has obligations to the freeholder.

Graham Bowcock

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13:22 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by N N at 03/07/2024 - 12:00How do you work out the the agent is crap. As an agent msyelf I am very wary about who has keys to properties. I have never come across a situation where a freeholder requires keys; the whole thing seems very strange. We always support reasonable access by those who need it, but never on a blanket basis.
The whole question is a bit odd and there's probably a lot more to it than has been posted.

Harlequin

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13:57 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by N N at 03/07/2024 - 12:00
Exactly this - other stuff I mentioned was just to shed light on what we are dealing with. She is stating 'harassment' of course.
We are a building with many fire safety issues that are dealing with by getting access to the individual flats for alarms/sprinklers etc and the building is also built like a sieve with flats leaking on each other, and old rusting soil pipes that are blocking and overflowing - I have suggested now that we inform the leaseholder that we will have to hold him responsible if lack of access causes damage, could do without difficult tenants, it's bad enough rebuilding/making safe a substandard building.
The leaseholders lease does give provision for access in an emergency - doing this a key is preferable always rather then breaking down the door, which would be an emergency or getting a locksmith in which would slow down the access. Her lease also has provision for access in an emergency.

Harlequin

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14:02 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 03/07/2024 - 13:22
No, nothing untoward or underhand we are dealing with a building with major fire safety issues and to get things done in a swift enough manner it is easier for residents - whether leaseholders or tenants - to allow access so that we are not waiting for access to carry out the works that need to be done inside - alarms, sprinklers etc for the fire works, and access when there are leaks which are frequent due to the poor build of the building (conversion office to residential).
Some agents are better than others.
How do you suggest we turn off a leak if we can't get swift access? just a question or carry out the remedials if we have to continually request access from a tenant who may or may not be around, with contractors it doesn't always work out that the sequence they propose will work in reality and they may need access. If we didn't do this the leaseholders would be on waking watch or even the building closed down. Real time issues.

Kizzie

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15:01 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Harlequin at 03/07/2024 - 14:02
I find it hard to understand too.
If the tenant is a long residential leaseholder then the tenant as one party and the landlord ( the RTM) the other party in the lease are bound by its terms and entry is usually only allowed to deal with emergencies.
This is someone’s home held under registered title at HMLR. If someone forced entry then it’s a criminal offence as it would be for a house.
Case law for ownership is Street v Mountford.
If the leaseholder the tenant is letting their property then the RTM deals with the leaseholder and not the person renting it except in case of emergency when first contact is with the leaseholder.

Michael Booth

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16:53 PM, 3rd July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Has a landlord of 25 years its beyond me a tenant refusing access to do repairs safety certs ect give 24 hours notice and enter property any issues with access through non compliance to a reasonable request ie gas leaks water leaks can be a life risking issue will be met with a eviction notice .

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