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robert_harvey07

Landlords friends enter our house with a key unannounced!!!

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We moved into a new house in April in Edinburgh. It is a short assured tenancy agreement. Our landlord lives in London, so we very rarely hear from him. However, last week we were astounded when two Chinese men entered our property using a key. Our first reaction was that we were being burgled! The two men spoke very broken English, however we eventually established they were the landlords friends and he had asked them to come around to collect his mail! We told them to leave immediately, and that if they ever attempted to gain entry to our house again that we would call the police.

 

We called our landlord as soon as they left, however, he seemed more annoyed that we had asked his "friends" to leave HIS house!!! His explanation for them coming was to collect his mail that is delivered to the house. We told him it was totally unacceptable to allow his friends a set of keys to access our home to collect mail - he said that he had tried to call us all day (which he hadn't at all!) and that because we hadn't answered his calls that day he was entitled to enter the house, although as he wasn't here, he is able to instruct his "agent" (to which there is no reference in the contract!) to enter.

 

We just want some advice here...firstly, is he allowed to give his "friends" a set of the keys? He has said that as he lives in London and the property is in Edinburgh, someone needs a set of keys in case of an emergency. Obviously we are extremely reluctant at his friends having keys now! Can we insist that he takes the set of keys off his friends? Is he (the landlord) even allowed a set?

 

What we find most disturbing is that his "friends" would have no idea where we stored the landlords mail, and so they would obviously have been searching our house going through our personal and valuables trying to locate this.

 

Also, the mail he is getting sent to our home is ridiculous - it's about 4 or 5 letters a day. We suspect he is using our home address as his address for his correspondence. We have asked him several times to have his mail redirected to his own address and to change his address with these companies. He seems to ignore us. Can we now, after 4 months, simply put his mail back in the mail box and write "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS"?

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

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If the property was in England/Wales I would advise you to change the locks immediatley. As its in Scotland, im not sure of the legality of this, but I imagine its still acceptable under such a situation.

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I am afraid we will have some difficulty here since Scottish tenancy law is very different from England and Wales.

 

I will see if I can find any information for you - but certainly in the UK, this would be TOTALLY ILLEGAL and LL could be prosecuted, and fined VERY HEAVILY.

 

Here are my first practical suggestions:

 

1. Write to LL and tell him that unless he arranges for his mail to be redirected, you will return it all to sender. I suspect he has not told his mortgage company he is letting..........

 

2. Change the locks. Keep the old ones to reinstall when you leave.

 

Meanwhile I will have a root round for some Scottish info - and if anyone with expertise in this is around......


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Hi, have a look here Better Renting Scotland - The Rules&

 

Click on the contact tab at the top and give them a ring.

 

Ell


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My advice is based on my opinion and experience only. It is not to be taken as legal advice - if you are unsure you should seek professional help.

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Thanks for your advice guys, we have been searching the internet for a while trying to find out some info, but can't seem to find out whether we can legally change the locks or not. Obviously we don't want to do anything that would compromise our tenancy.

 

Another question now, just to complicate it even further, I have just come off the phone to our landlord, who has said that we are now due to start paying him council tax. Obviously I was confused as to what he was talking about, but it appears that he has decided to keep the council tax in his name (his excuse was that it would be cheaper for us as he could claim a single person discount!) and that we are now to pay him the council tax. I have told him absolutely no way - that is illegal! We already pay our council tax to the council. It is obvious he is still using this as his address though - why else would he still want to remain on the council tax, and probaly the electoral roll etc. He's obviously then not paying the correct council tax in London - although i'm guessing it is probably cheaper for him to commit fraud and pay Edinburgh rate council tax!!!

 

We're obviously now very worried that this landlord is turning out to be.... well, incredibly dodgy and nothing more than a conman!

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Right - please take a look at this website. Of particular interest are Items 79, 62 and 15 (harrassment)

 

79. Can the landlord enter the house whenever he wants?

The landlord is entitled to enter the house only if and so far as the tenancy agreement specifically says that he may, except that there are special rules about access for repairs which are explained in question 62.

 

62. is the landlord entitled to enter the property to carry out repairs?

The tenants must give the landlord reasonable access to the property and all reasonable facilities to enable him to do any repairs he is entitled or required to do.

Also, where the landlord is by law responsible for repairs he or an agent authorised by him in writing may, at reasonable times of the day and provided he gives the tenant 24 hours notice in writing, enter the property to inspect its condition and state of repair.

If the landlord wishes to do works for which he needs the tenant's agreement, and the tenant refuses, the landlord may be able to ask the sheriff to give him the right to enter the property and do the work.

 

15. What if a landlord seeks possession without doing these 3 things?

It is a criminal offence for anyone to turn a tenant out of his home without a Court Order or to try to make him leave by intimidation, violence, withholding services such as gas or electricity, or any other sort of interference. [it is not a legitimate excuse for a landlord to say that he did not intend his actions to harass his tenant or force him to leave. An offence will still have occurred if he should have known that his actions would be taken by the tenant to be harassment to make him leave]. If anyone tries to force a tenant to leave his home by intimidation or any other form of harassment, the tenant should contact the police immediately.

A landlord found guilty of illegal eviction may be liable to pay damages to the evicted tenant. The level of damages will be based on any financial benefit to the landlord from having a house with vacant possession instead of a house with a sitting tenant.

All this applies to short assured tenancies as well as to other assured tenancies.

 

I think 79 is the one you are mainly interested in. I have not yet found anything relating to a tenant's right to "quiet enjoyment" which is a mainstay of English and Welsh Tenancy law.

 

Assured Tenancies in Scotland - Your Rights and Responsibilities: page 6

 

Hope this helps.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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The Better Renting website is also excellent.

 

I have copied this from it - this differs markedly from England and Wales where, except in the case of an emergency, the tenant has the right to refuse access altogether - LL would have to get a court order for access in this situation.

 

Rights of access to your property

You are entitled to enter the property to inspect any repairs required or to carry out repairs. Your tenant is required to give you reasonable access to do this. You should normally arrange a suitable time with the tenant, but you can enter the property, at a reasonable time of day, provided you have given the tenant 24 hours notice in writing. (If an emergency repair is required, you can claim immediate access.)

 

 


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks for your advice guys, we have been searching the internet for a while trying to find out some info, but can't seem to find out whether we can legally change the locks or not. Obviously we don't want to do anything that would compromise our tenancy.

 

He would have to take you to court to evict you and I doubt if he will want to go near a court....... If his excuse was that you changed the locks, I don't think any judge would be too sympathetic after hearing of your experience!

 

Another question now, just to complicate it even further, I have just come off the phone to our landlord, who has said that we are now due to start paying him council tax. Obviously I was confused as to what he was talking about, but it appears that he has decided to keep the council tax in his name (his excuse was that it would be cheaper for us as he could claim a single person discount!) and that we are now to pay him the council tax. I have told him absolutely no way - that is illegal! We already pay our council tax to the council.

 

I would contact the council and ensure that the coucil tax liability for the property is in your name - make sure they know you are tenants at the property. Do you pay by direct debit?

 

We're obviously now very worried that this landlord is turning out to be.... well, incredibly dodgy and nothing more than a conman!

 

I wouldn't worry too much about him. Just make sure that you do nothing illegal yourselves. You have rights as tenants. I would suggest that just maybe you might like to ensure that further communication with your landlord is in writing???


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks to everyone for their replies - has been really helpful.

 

I've just been told by the landlord that under point 64 in our Short Assured Tenancy Agreement it states that:

 

"Locks may not be added or changed without the prior written agreement of both the Landlord and the Tenant, or unless the changes are made in compliance with the Act."

 

He has said that if we do change the locks, we will be breaching the tenancy agreement and that he can take "further action".

 

The problem is that he is a Chinese Lawyer - ok, so he probably doesn't know much about UK law, but he understands a lot more than us! It seems that although he knows he is in the wrong, he has a "get out" for everything!!! :mad:

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So you are happy now for his friends to come and go in your home whenever it suits them?

 

If it happens again, call the police.

 

And if you doubt the information given here, please go and have a chat with Shelter or CAB - what is happening is totally unacceptable and just because he is a Chinese lawyer (big deal - many UK lawyers don't know anything about Landlord/Tenant law either) you are letting him intimidate you.

 

Another avenue you might try is a chat with the local housing officer at your local council. They may be able to give you some advice on how to deal with this situation.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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