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Under what circumstances can a landlord break into a property?


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I am living in a high-rise flat, owned by a housing association (ex-council).

 

I came home at 11:30am this morning to find the Housing Officer and a joiner/locksmith in the flat after breaking in. They said that the flat below had reported water leaking into their flat from ours, and that they had broken in to shut off the water/stop the leak.

 

As it turned out, there was no leak - the Housing officer had not checked the flat below first to confirm that there actually was a leak before breaking in to our flat. It appears that the flat downstairs had nothing more than a small patch of damp on an outside wall near the ceiling (our flat also has several areas of damp - it's a known problem in these blocks). It was nothing whatsoever to do with our flat.

 

I realise that the HA may have a right to force entry in a genuine emergency, but I would have thought there would be some kind of formal proceedure to follow before going ahead with this. And this wasn't a genuine emergency!

 

My question is, is what this housing officer did illegal? I'm not happy with what's happened for a variety of reasons, namely:

 

1. They broke into our flat on the say-so of another tennant, without verifying that there actually was a problem;

2. They said they didn't have emergency contact numbers for me or my girlfriend, despite the fact that a) they have contacted us on them before, and b) my girlfriend used to work for the HA and knows that the numbers were in the computer 'cos she put them in!

3. They've fitted a new lock, but of a different type - the old one had a thumb-turn on the inside as it's the only means of escape from the flat - the new one needs a key to be opened from the inside, which isn't good in the event of a fire.

4. The most annoying part - they said they couldn't contact either of us to gain entry but I would have been in to let them in, had I not been attending a pre-arranged appointment at the housing office at the time!!!

 

Sorry, I was going to try & keep this question brief, but I've gone into full-on rant-mode again!

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You have answered your own question; l/lord has a right of access in genuine emergncy but it seems your H.A. did not investigate properly if they can gain your permission. The emergency was questionable too. Write a stonking complaint letter and demand compensation for trespass to land (landlord enters premises without permission) and to goods (damaging goods/furniture etc.). In order to claim compensation you need to show that you have suffer some kind of loss/damage: financial or emotional. I would hesitate to say how much for emotional distress- maybe others will join in discussion. As a starting point I would say £200 but I would recommend that you google for caselaw.

If the outcome of the complaint is not satisfactory, come back and we can discuss it further (taking a civil court action).

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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I'd also check that the new lock they have fitted confirms to any relevant safety standards for the use it has been put to - namely the sole means of exit in a high rise flat.

 

If it does, you probably don't have any legal recourse on this one - but if they've fitted something which is inappropriate, it will serve to back-up the rest of your claim and force them to compensate.

 

Whilst they acted in "good faith", they obviously didn't check the matter thoroughly before acting.

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what surprises me here is that the HA didnt have a key. Maybe it is different with ex council but my landlord/agency have keys to the house. When I am not in and they need to enter the house urgently, they will use the keys.

There is no need to break in, that would only be left to emergency services.

 

So I would ask the HA were is the extra set of keys and why didnt they have them with them? Especially now there is a new lock, do you both have a key to it?

 

Just a little thought

 

LMS

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Been in a similar case myself though on the other side with the housing association reluctant to investigate the flat above despite the leak coming from there in my case.

 

In my case the housing association just knocked on his door (it didn't help us that we'd had further problems with him that I wont go into). I would have though that they would have posessed a spare key for incidents such as these. Would have thought that like my case they would have checked the leak in the downstairs property before attempting to gain access to yours with or without a key which they should really have.

 

I'd be complaining to the housing association and seeking compensation if I were you though as Joa says the region of £200 seems acceptable (I recently got £300 from my housing association in compo for their failure to deal with the guy above us who since we moved in has subjected us to noise nuisance as well as threats, abusive language and criminal damage.... anyway I'm drifting off topic and I said I wouldn't go into the problems we'd had with him so time for bed :) )

All my posts are made without prejudice and may not be reused or reproduced without my express permission (or the permission of the forums owners)!

 

17/10/2006 Recieve claim against me from lloyds TSB for £312.82

18/10/06 S.A.R - (Subject Access Request) sent

03/02/07 Claim allocated to small claims. Hearing set for 15/05/07. Lloyds ordered to file statement setting out how they calculate their charges

15/05/07 Lloyds do not attend. Judgement ordered for £192 approx, £3 travel costs and removal of default notice

29/05/07 4pm Lloyds deadline for payment of CCJ expires. Warrant of execution ready to go

19/06/07 Letter from court stating Lloyds have made a cheque payment to court

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