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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70526
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Helo- My qestion is - is it a criminal offence when a

Customer Question

helo- My qestion is - is it a criminal offence when a letting agent for a holiday let within the apartments that i live in (i am an owner there are 6 flats in the building- but at present no managemnt company- being dealt with as i write) --- comes in with a locksmith and changes the locks for the benefit of his holiday lets- this has seriously jeopardised the security of the building
particularly my apartment - as the 4 way boltiing system has been taken away - only a 2 bolt system is left on the back door as weel. Can we lodge a complaint of criminal damage to the police at this stage= the agent is hlpe bent on doing things his way - and we as owners have had enough - Can you adivise please- kind regards juanita
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Hello why were the changes made in the first place?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

the original locking systems to the front and back door have a key locking system on the outside and a thumb lock on the inside- permanent residents know how to lock the doors- we are a small block of 6 apartments with the holiday lets - they are brought through the front door from the main busy high street, through the corridor to the back door - in which both have to be locked then taken through another main front door to rear of building same system - then up through internal stairs or the external fire escape stairs - leading to yet another front door and then in to the second floor and their own internal front door. Over the last 2 years we have witnessed via our cctv cameras, the holiday visitors struggle with the locking of all the doors particularly the main front door, which cannot be left unlocked at any time- this has been causing a real security problem particularly for my apartment - which is the only one with the internal front door immediately located inside the corridor with the 2 exterior doors- The holiday let agent has taken upon himself to change the locks of a building he has no legal ownership of- he did this is week without any communication to me or other owner/occupiers - he engaged a locksmith to take away the thumb locking system to the front door- which had the 4 way bolt security we need for a busy high street location. The door now is flimsily locked on a 2 bolt system which i can actually push and see a gap - hence the whole security has been violated- i feel very vunerable at the moment - the back door handle has fallen off - due to the negligence of the locksmith- the other owner occupier had to put duck tape over the handle to try and make it look sound. The holiday let agent has done this for the convenience of his clients an easy system for them - and has had no regard for the overall security of the building- of which he has no right over anyway- The 2 doors at the moment have a very simple opening and shutting method- but no security - especially for my apartment. Please can you advise me on our next action. I understand that this is criminal damage to property of which this agent has no legal ownership.. Thanks very much Juanita **********

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. But why were the changes made?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the changes were made for the convenience of the holiday lets - and no one else- as i said this holiday let agent thinks he can do what he wants -
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

But it is to facilitate the entry of people who are entitled to be there?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The front door and corridor to the back door is a common area- so yes residents are entitled to come through - however the agent
seems to feel that he is entitled to go round changing locks to a building which he has no legal rights - we see different faces every week - with this holiday let business- and under the terms of the lease - there is a nuisence clause - and in our eyes these temporary people are causing a nuisense- to us on a regular basis- It would be much easier if they were not even brought through the front door and then back door- a simple solution is for them to walk round the back of the building where their front door is located. As I said previously- we installed cctv cameras to keep the front and rear of the building safe- and they have been invaluable as we know who is on a regular basis is not locking the main doors. Each time a new holiday let appears, we are on red alert as we know at some point the building is left unsecure, as they are totally overwhelmed with all the different doors they are taken through- which causes confusion to say the least. The building is a renovation of an old pub hence all the odd locations of the main doors. The whole thing is extremely stressful- and it is not helped by the actions of someone who seems to think he has carte blanche over our living arrangements. We have noted that the owners of the holiday let are very silent in this matter.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry but this is not criminal damage. Or any other criminal offence I'm afraid.

If they had no permission to change the locks from the actual property owner then there maybe a claim against them for the cost of putting it right but that doesn't get over the hurdle of criminal damage.

You may have a complaint to the managing agents when they are appointed.

That still doesn't render changing locks a criminal offence though Im afraid.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for this info - we will be taking over as the managing agents and head lease - this is in hand with my solicitor - and will contact him tomorow - Our main concern is that the actual security of the building is not in a secure state, due to the actions of an this holiday let company. If my apartment was broken into due to lack of main and rear door security , and the cctv cameras showed that the last person through each door was a holiday let who did not secure the door - is the letting company liable for this, as he has adjusted the original locking system?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for the delay. I don't know why this dropped off our list.

Im afraid I cannot really see a claim against them. I haven't seen the lease I suppose which might provide a remedy.

On the face of it, they are entitled to access.

A managing agent might be your best option.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your response - Jo - i understand that the holiday visitors are entitled to walk through-
the issue is the agent taking upon himself to change the locking system which was in place when I bought the property 2 and a half years ago - purely for his own convenience- of which has taken away the original security to the building and my apartment security. Is this a common practice that 'agents' go around changing locks for their transient clients, with total disregard to owner occupiers and other tenants - I am confused - as another solicitor has told me that he has no right to do this. So still feel my solution to the problem is muddled. kind regards juanita
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I understand.

The issue though is that if the old locking system prevented them gaining access then they would be entitled to change the locks.

He cannot just randomly change the locks as he chooses although I suppose that as long as everybody is given keys the loss is hard to quantify. If it was part and parcel of gaining access to a property to which he was lawfully entitled that is different.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hi there - the old locking system never prevented anyone from entering - is was the system of turnng a key, shutting the door and then turning a thumb lock which gave the security the door requires for an on street position.- holiday lets dont think 'security' as they in their minds assume the door will lock itself- we had to put up polite notices to remind them and anyone else who does not live on the premises on a regular basis to just make them aware that the front door was NOT a self locking system - yes in retrospect a simpler version of which the locksmith has created-is somewhat easier - BUT our argument in this is that the agent has no right to change the locks willy nilly to suit him- and not inform us of his intentions- which he knows he should have done- leaving the front door weak to intruders and the backdoor handle mechanism not intack and unusable.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

But they are letting agents?

Do they insure the building? Or provide insurance?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no this man just owns a holiday let buisiness- he has nothing to do with the building at all- the couple who own the flat have put thier flat on his website for holiday makers- that is all - he charges them 25% of the take- the lady works for him taking other bookings-
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
he has no authority over this building at all- so i hope you can see our point of view as to his actions-
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Does he provide no insurance at all?

Or do you just not know?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thanks for all your advice- my solicitor is dealing with this now - kind regards juanita
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

No problem.

All the best.