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Subcontractor taking photographs inside my home


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Hi all!

 

 

Is it illegal for a subcontractor to take photos inside my house and send them to the landlord?

 

 

For a bit of background/detail - I am finally (after five years of waiting) getting a new kitchen in my Housing Association home. Today one of the subcontractors took a photograph of my cat litter tray and sent it to my landlord claiming that there was a smell of cat urine and faeces which made it intolerable for them to work in my property.

 

 

I have several issues with this - firstly I was totally unaware that this had happened, I was not asked permission by the subcontractor for him to take any photographs, nor was I aware that this had even happened until I received a telephone call from my landlord regarding same.

 

 

Secondly, the cat litter tray was in the downstairs cloakroom - separated from the kitchen in which they were supposed to be working by a utility room and a closed door. The smell from the tray is minimal and was not even detectable from the kitchen, which was the only place I was aware they were in. I did not give them permission to use the toilet, nor did they ask.

 

 

Thirdly, because I was totally unaware that any photographs were taken, I have no idea how many were taken, and of which parts of the house and/or my personal property.

 

 

Is what they did legal? and if not is there anything I can do about it.

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Hi Chayton

 

Did the Sub Contractor at any time during them being in your property raise the issue and ask you to move the litter trays?

 

Did the Housing Association come out to inspect the issue raised (or was it a just a phone call only)?

 

During the Housing association phone call exactly what did the Housing Association state?

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Hey :) No, I knew nothing of the issue until the phonecall from the landlord. The subbies left just after midday saying that they'd finished stripping the wallpaper and that the electrician would be around tomorrow. The housing association guy hasn't been around to inspect - just a telephone call. The housing association guy told me that I had until tomorrow afternoon to sort out the issue out or theyd call in contract cleaners to come and do the whole house and charge me for it. He stated that it had to be "clean enough for normal people to come round" - he told me that I was breaching the terms of my tenancy agreement if the house was not kept in a clean and tidy state, and that none of the subcontracters were willing to come into my house until the issue was sorted out. All this over a minor smell which wasn't even noticeable in the room they were supposed to be working in.

 

 

Obviously its not a huge problem to just change the cat litter - which I have now done, my main issue is whether it was legal for them to take unauthorised pictures of that and who knows what else without my permission or knowledge. I have no idea what else they did or where they went, and I will be ensuring that they are closely supervised every minute they're in my house from now on, since they quite evidently can't be trusted on their own.

 

 

 

 

EDIT: I didn't give them permission, nor did they ask, to use the toilet where the litter tray was located, and the door to that room and the utility room were both closed. I was in the house 90% of the time they were there so they had plenty of opportunity to ask.

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Id imagine that they were too embarrassed to confront you about it direct.

Secondly, if its a minor smell to you, its a major smell to them as you are used to it.

Pics, as long as they are for work purposes and to act as proof of something then I dont see that you have anything to complain about.

What would they have asked? Oh, excuse me but your house stinks of ammonia, can I take some pics as evidence?

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hi chayton,

I apologise in advance if my post sounds rude, it isn't meant to be, but could be construed as rude.

 

A friend of mine has a cat, when I am in her house the smell for me is intolerable. My friend does not notice the smell so much since they are living with it daily. I try not to go into the house, but on the occasions I do, I am almost positive that I can smell cats on my clothes when I leave her house!

 

Maybe you could get some spray from your pet shop? Or a cheaper alternative would be to use lemons.

 

I think there is not much you can do about the contractors taking photos.

 

The best thing I believe you can do is to just get rid of the smell using whatever method you decide on and perhaps ask one of your friends whether they can smell anything. As you say, you can smell a minor smell, but what is minor to you would probably be major issue for someone not used to the smell.

 

I can understand your frustration in this but at the same time can also understand the subcontractors frustration.

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Ok lets take a step back here.

 

1. Did the Sub Contractor us his Personal Mobile or a Work Mobile Phone to take these Pictures? (if taken on a personal mobile tut tut tut)

 

2. The Sub Contractor irrespective should have politely asked the tenant to remove offending item to somewhere else then if they refused reported to Housing Association. (courtesy works both ways)

 

3. The Housing Association without investigating the matter have taken the Sub Contractors word and a photograph and threatened the tenant all without stepping foot in the property.

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I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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Makes no difference whether on personal phone or not. Why would it matter? Not forgetting he is a subcontractor, not a council employee so his work phone is probably his personal phone.

 

You cant politely tell someone their house smells(you can be nice about it, but they will always be offended). Its not something they are paid to do or trained to do. They would likely have faced disciplinary action should they have just said something without checking procedure with the office.

 

Why would the subby lie? The subby says the house smells strongly of ammonia and is not fit to work in.

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Personal Work phone Vs Work phone.

Would data protection come into this at all?

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i think data protection would come into this, such as the contractor or landlord should not share that information to the public along with other information which would identify the person living in the house

 

taking a photo for the purpose of work is ok and i can't see the difference between using a personal or business phone to do this, on provision that it is used in relation to the business and not distributed outside the business along with other information which identifies the individual

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I would think that using a work phone means the data stored on it is under the control of the data controller of the company, where as taken with a public phone does not.

 

Its not too important anyhow, im just theory crafting

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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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I suggest OP is de-sensitised to cat odour anc Contrator is not. Photo of cat litter tray/location is iirelevet, cats spread litter around on their paws, and may not always use the litter tray. Cats can have weak bladder control as well as any human.

Whilst a courtesy to ask to use the loo, where else OP expect Contractor to relieve himself?

HA has duty of care to it's Contractor's for noxious smells, but HA phone call was 'premature'.

OP can expect a HA inspection visit soon. Does s/he have HA written permission to keep a cat? What does Lease say about pets?

After waiting 5 years, I would expect OP to be more interested in getting a new kitchen.

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Yes, I am probably de sensitised to the smell, however I have had a lot of people who don't own cats in the house, including since the contractors came - on the same day the contractors left, and before i changed the litter tray, I asked about an odour and none of them could smell it unless they were in the cloakroom where the tray is, where the subbies should not have been.

 

 

I do have permission to have cats.

 

 

I have no idea what the photograph was taken with, I didn't even know they wanted to take pictures, let alone that they actually had.

 

 

As to why the subbie would lie - well, there's any number of reasons - perhaps they wanted to knock off work early, or would have preferred a less dusty job than knocking off tiles/stripping wallpaper, for example. You cant just walk out saying "i can't be arsed doing this any more" or "I want to go back to bed" so youd have to come up with a good reason. I did warn all the relevant parties before they even started that I had cats in case of allergies.

 

 

As I said, the litter tray/smell problem is not really the issue for me - had they said something to me Id have cleaned out the tray there and then and put it outside, but I do understand why there might be embarrassment or trepidation in asking since one wouldn't know what kind of response one would get.. again, that's not really the problem.

 

 

As to where I'd expect the contractor to relieve himself - well that's not really my problem to be honest, it is more than just common courtesy to ask someone before using their toilet - I don't particularly want someone elses urine spread all over my toilet seat (we all know that a lot of men are not very particular about lifting the seat before they go, or cleaning it if they don't), nor do I want to sit where an unknown person has sat their bare arse cheeks before cleaning it, so yeah, it is necessary to ask before using someone else's toilet.

 

 

My particular problem here is that because the photograph/s were taken without my permission or knowledge, in a place the contractors were not supposed to be - I have no idea where else or what else was photographed. Since I was not given the opportunity to see these photographs, I have no idea whether the photograph taken was actually my litter tray, or maybe something taken from the internet and sent over - my litter tray is regularly cleaned, and wasn't particularly well used at the time, since the weather has been good and the cats have been going outside as they usually do when its not raining.

 

 

Yes, I am very keen on getting a new kitchen which is why I am particularly vexed that it has now been held up because of a very minor issue such as this, which could have been sorted out with just a word or two, which would also have avoided the HA representative being involved - the contractors came at 8.30am, stayed 10 minutes, then left for an hour to go get supplies. While they were out I rang their supervisor to ask when they'd be back since I needed to go out - he could have told me then, on the telephone, thus avoiding the unnecessary embarrassment of talking to me face to face, but nothing was said, the contractors came back, stripped off the wallpaper and left saying theyd finished.

 

 

EDIT: The supervisor attended with the subcontractors at 8.30, left with them 10 mins later, and did not return. If the smell was bad enough for the subbies to complain about, surely the supervisor would have smelled it too when he stood in the kitchen for that 10 mins discussing what was needed.

Edited by Chayton
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The actual question you asked was whether they had the right to take photos.

 

The answer is a clear and unequivocal 'NO'.

 

The why has nothing to do with anything that has been raised by anyone that responded, and everything to do with the fact that you have an expectation of privacy in your own home, and no one has the right to breach that privacy by taking photos in your home or of your things without your express permission.

 

Do you have a claim? Probably not, but there is nothing to stop you writing to the landlord and informing them that they have breached your privacy, that you are not happy about it, and what are they going to offer you in compensation. Expect them to say 'nothing', but there's no harm in asking, or demanding a little something for the breach given the upset it has caused you.

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