Property inspection refused and locks changed

by Readers Question

10:19 AM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Property inspection refused and locks changed

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Property inspection refused and locks changed

I have had the same tenant for four years. The tenancy agreement stated that no locks be changed without the landlords permission, but they have been changed and although I was promised that spare keys would be given to us, this has not happened.access

Originally this was in the hands of an agent, but they found that the tenant would not comply to periodical inspections so I decided to manage the property myself. The rent is always paid regularly ( just a few days late now and then), but the problem is that I need to do an inspection as this has not been done for over two years.

Despite contacting the tenant via his mobile and sending a letter giving him two weeks to arrange a convenient time to allow entry to inspect the property he has completely ignored any attempt to arrange it. I have never increased the rent since he took up the tenancy.

I really need to inspect the property for the state of repair for insurance purposes. Should I have a set of keys and what is the way to get him to allow an inspection?

Any advice appreciated

Jemma



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:22 AM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Jemma

I would be concerned/wonder why the locks have been changed and you have not been able to arrange a visit.

As a first recourse do you have a telephone number and have you tried a friendly chat?

Are the tenants in a fixed term or statutory periodic tenancy?

Chris Byways

11:07 AM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Is the rent commensurate with others for the area?

Do you really want to keep them, or can you rent it out at a higher level to tenants that comply with the most fundamental obligations? Serving a s21 "in case they do not allow an inspection" is worthwhile.

Are they growing something they ought not to be? What do the neighbours know about them, are they the same tenant, or is it being sublet?

If you arrange the time for the inspection after giving two days notice, can you go with a locksmith, change the lock keeping and giving them new keys, inspecting, with a witness ideally, and camera. Instructing locks are not to be changed?

But a visit unexpectedly to have a chat is surely worthwhile, can the Windows be seen through, and the electric meter readable from outside?

You could be in breach of statutory requirements (legionella check, h&s, voiding your insurance etc, for example) if you are aware of a situation that you do not correct.

If the Police needed entry, and asked you for the key, if you did not have one, the cost of them using their big red key may be down to you.

The cost of replacing the locks should be deductable from the deposite, if fair warning given. All arguments to make the tenant comply with the agreement.

Mark Alexander

12:28 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

My first thought is in regards to gas safely checks. If there is gas in the property, have they been done?

Under the circumstances, you would need to get a Court Order to force entry. I'd recommend you to speak to Landlord Action, please mention that you were referred by Property118.
.

Jemma Brabs

12:54 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "11/02/2016 - 10:22":

Hi Neil,
I have the tenant's mobile number, but it goes to voicemail and he totally ignores my messages and texts, although he knows my landline and mobile number. He apparently works away from home quite a lot so it is very hard to chat to him via a visit he never seems to be there. The messages and letter have always been on a respectful and friendly term and I have assured him that we in no way want to encroach on his privacy but have to carry out an inspection.
The tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.
The Gas check is due in a couple of weeks and previously there has been no problem when the gas engineer has done the annual check. If he can get a date for this gas check would it be a good idea to say that we will visit at the same time, giving him notice of course?
Kind regards
Jemma

Jemma Brabs

13:18 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Byways" at "11/02/2016 - 11:07":

Hi Chris,

I am quite happy with the rent he is paying and it is around the same as other properties in the area or maybe lower.
I don't think there is anything sinister going on at the premises but my concern is the fact that he works away from home quite regularly and I am worried that the house maybe getting damp through being unheated and unaired which I presume I have to declare on the insurance.
I know the neighbours quite well and they have verified that he does seem to be away very often.
He has always allowed the gas check to be carried out so I'm hoping to maybe gain entry when the gas engineer next visits, giving him notice to do so of course.
In the meantime I may send another NICE letter and get proof of posting as someone has suggested. I don't think he would be there to sign for a recorded delivery.What is an s21?
I really don't want to be harassing him but he is in breach of quite a few tenancy rules.
Kind Regards
Jemma.

Neil Patterson

13:22 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Jemma,

Gas check time sounds like a plan 🙂

terry sullivan

13:59 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

i would have a chat with local police--sounds like potential criminal activity--if the proverbial hits the fan you will be in firing line--if he is away a lot why does he need accommodation--anyone else living there--right to rent rules! i regret i trust noone

do you have gas certificate?

Mandy Thomson

14:03 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

I agree with Mark - you'd need a Court Order to gain access if this is denied outright. However, your idea of showing up the same time as the gas inspector is a very good one - provided your tenant has at least 24 hours notice. From what you say, it does sound more like your tenant having trouble finding the time to see you, rather than anything sinister.

On the subject of landlord's right and duty to carry out inspections, Tessa Shepperson gives some really good advice here: http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2014/09/09/all-about-landlords-rights-to-go-into-their-tenants-property/

Lastly, under landlord licensing, landlords are normally obliged to carry out inspections, usually quarterly but sometimes more often!

Jemma Brabs

14:23 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Many thanks to you all for the valuable advice. I have plenty of food for thought now and am most grateful for all the information given.

I shall proceed in the first instance,with the visit along with the gas engineer, which is due very soon,

I have also found out what an s21 is and hope I don't have to resort to that, But will bear it mind in the future.
Thanks again
Jemma

Rob Spencer

1:54 AM, 13th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Another route might be to serve the Section 21 notice with a covering letter explaining this was because you could not arrange inspection, however if he calls you to arrange a suitable date and you manage to gain entry you may consider rescinding said notice. Ordinarily I would not use such a scenario but your circumstances sound exceptional and it's amazing how a Section 21 notice can achieve results getting a tenant to contact the landlord when all else has failed.

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