Keys and tenants own appliances?

Keys and tenants own appliances?

14:03 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago 11

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I hope I can ask about two things at once here. Firstly, as a private landlord, I don’t have an office that is always open during office hours. If my tenants lock themselves out, just how quickly should I be expected to respond?

If I am not at home all day, they won’t be able to access a spare key for several hours. There is also no emergency number if it happens at night when my phone is switched off, though it is late – from midnight most nights.

My properties are within 5 miles of where I live so if they send a cab for the key or come themselves of course they should pay for that. In the past, I have been kind and dropped keys to them if I am available, but I feel this goes above and beyond my duties as a landlord. I tell them all to leave their spare key with a trusted person.

Second question – The other day a tenant got in touch at 10pm to say that most of the lights in the flat had gone off and all the kitchen switches. They checked the fuse box and said it hadn’t tripped.

I got somebody out by 1 pm the next day. He said the fuse box had tripped – then the tenants admitted they were too short to see it (well, stand on a chair – der.) The electrician said that their faulty vegetable steamer had caused the issue. That cost me £95.

I cannot be responsible for tenants using their own faulty appliances, and if they had said the fuse had tripped I would have suspected as such and asked them to check any extra appliances they are using. Should I expect the tenants to sort out fuses tripping themselves?

I explain it to them all when they move in. I am going to send a letter saying I won’t be responsible for tenants’ own appliances in future.

I said I would pay the call-out fee on this occasion. They are good tenants and have had to put up with a noisy tenant of mine (their neighbour) who I am evicting.

Many thanks

Helen



Comments

by Gunga Din

14:57 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

Hi Helen,

I include in the welcome letter/info pack the details of an emergency locksmith for them to call, pointing out that they will be liable. They must be taught a lesson of personal responsibility - if they were an owner occupier no-one would come to their aid.

I always suggest they lodge a spare key with a nearby relative/trusted friend etc., and emphasise that I won't be able to help if they lock themselves out. Its a shame if it takes an actual lock-out to focus their minds but it is so often the case. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. Don't give them the impression you'll be there to rescue them from inconveniences that are part and parcel of running one's own household!

I can certainly understand your generosity with the electrical call out, considering the objectionable neighbour, but it was not a fault in the electrical infrastructure. They overloaded it and even if accidental, the fault is theirs. There should ideally be something to this effect in the AST.

Maintain a business relationship with them and don't act as their parents! Would you go out and change a light bulb for them? Where to draw the line?!

by David Judd

15:25 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

There are companies that hold keys on your behalf for situations like this. Tenant calls and they send bike with key. Tenant pays.
I would charge them for tripping the switch, faulty appliances are not your fault - but you should have something in your agreement to let them know

by Y Lana

15:26 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

Hi Helen

When I was in social housing, it was accepted that an emergency response (flooding, lost keys, loss of power, etc.) of about 4hrs was OK, though for a small provider like yourself, you could argue that 12hrs is not an unreasonable response time.

That said, you may want to contract a maintenance service like British Gas, Homeserve, etc. that would take the hassle off you - do you want to be juggling tenant calls while you are on holiday, say? It also comes across as a more professional service.

I don't keep spare keys for let properties as it could leave me open to allegations of unlawful access, theft, etc. If my tenants lose their keys, they are responsible for the costs - any help I am able to render would be discretionary.

A final word - When my tenant's tell me that they've have a total power loss, I ask them to run some basic checks (is there a power cut in the area, unplug all appliances, etc.) I always agree to send out an electrician but make clear that they will be charged the full costs if the fault is found to be due to their faulty appliance. Invariably, I tend not to hear from them again on that particular issue.

by Graham Bowcock

15:26 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

Lock outs are quite rare; we don't promise to hold keys, but if we have them will try and help (most houses are close to where we live). It's not guaranteed, though, so if we are out or busy the tenants are on their own. Luckily they are all adults! If I got locked out of my house I'd have to get (and pay for) a locksmith.

As for the electrical issue, we probablyt do the same as you and talk them through the fuseboard. However, if it's not accessible that's a problem. In these day of H and S I wouldn't tell a tenant to stand on a chair (however practical that may be). My mother's consumer unit is very high and I've been lobbying her landlord to relocate it so she can reach it.

by Christopher Holden

15:40 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

I have dealt with miss placed keys many times, one tenant is a bit of nightmare, it par for the course, if it costs the landlord, then the cost should be met by the tenant.
Electrical wise, it is a mine field, as tenants tend to view any situation as, I pay rent you should sort anything & everything out, even if it their error.
One tenant did indeed want me to change fuses and bulbs, he tripped a fuse on a Friday evening three weeks in a row!
It took some searching but no shock it was an appliance of his :/

by R.H. Clayton

15:54 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

I fitted deadlocks which need the key to lock up so at least they leave with the keys. No problems since.

by Martin Roberts

17:59 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

The flat we rent out is only about 10 mins walk from our house so we put a key safe outside home and tell tenants if they lock themselves out call my mobile and I'll give them the code.

Stops them ‘borrowing' the key for a friend and still getting locked out.

Also agree they can leave my mobile no with a trusted friend (who's number they know by heart) in case they lock their phone inside.

Never had a nuisance call but would block number if I did.

by Smartermind

21:45 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by R.H. Clayton at 17/01/2022 - 15:54
Deadlocks or not, they can still lose the key.
In which case they either call a locksmith, who drills the lock open potentially denying you the key to the new lock or you open up for them.

We had tenants who couldn't be bothered to use the key to the front door, so they would leave the rear patio door permanently unlocked which was also accessible by their friends. We stopped giving a key to the patio door to further tenants (It can still be opened internally in an emergency).

by Helen

23:40 PM, 17th January 2022, About 4 months ago

Thank you for all your useful comments. As usual, I need to toughen up! I will also check all future contracts for details on the above, but as we know, contracts are barely worth the paper they are printed on from the tenant's side. In the meantime I will send an email around explaining the position regarding getting locked out and own appliances.

by Pete England - PaTMa Property Management

12:26 PM, 18th January 2022, About 4 months ago

I would always ask for a picture of the board before calling someone out, after questioning what appliances they were using at the time. It saves some hassle, but on this occasion the cost should be the tenants. As for Key’s I presume you have given them 2 or more sets, providing a backup on 1 occasion is fine. If its happens again then I would suggest a call out charge.

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