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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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, I have recently signed a lease on an unfurnished property

Resolved Question:

, I have recently signed a lease on an unfurnished property through a letting agent. There is a bedroom on the ground floor that has French doors providing access to the outside (a public area in the gated development - as does the front door exit there). The owners are declining to provide a key to these doors saying that it is a security risk, which seems strange since they would not be left open unless I was there and all the property contents are mine. At the time of showing the property neither the agent nor the owner who I met mentioned that this door would not have access.
I see this as diminishing my enjoyment of the property (it is a fairly significant rent) and also to some degree an increased fire escape risk as it is an internal room. I am not sure how to proceed.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Alex Watts :

my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

Did they ever say they would not provide access before you signed the tenancy agreement?

Customer:

Alex

Customer:

No they did not

Customer:

Only after I moved in when I asked

Alex Watts :

Does the agent also refuse or are they acting on the Landlords instructions?

Customer:

they initially said they didn't have keys, so I asked them to change the locks, and then they said that they considered it a security risk

Customer:

on the landlord's instructions

Alex Watts :

I agree with you on this. What is it you want to achieve, the keys?

Customer:

I suggested to the agent that they should say it is unreasonable but they are essentially saying that's the Landlord's decision

Customer:

Yes

Alex Watts :

I agree.But I assume it does not have a clause in the tenancy agreement which states the french doors are excluded or no keys provided?

Customer:

or if as they say they do not have keys, either they change the locks or permission to do so

Customer:

no such clause

Alex Watts :

Then you need to ask the the agent on what basis they can enforce this? It is not in the contract.

Customer:

It is clearly unreasonable but what legal claim would I have?

Alex Watts :

The contract contains all the written terms and conditions. They can't rely on something that is not in the contract

Customer:

But it's also not written that I can ?

Alex Watts :

I think you have a legal claim -they are in breach of contract

Alex Watts :

What you can do is write to them, set out your position and ask they deliver up the keys within 7 days or say you will go to Court.

Alex Watts :

If they refuse then you can issue proceedings. You would need to complete forms N1

Alex Watts :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf

Alex Watts :

And N16a

Alex Watts :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n016a-eng.pdf

Alex Watts :

You are asking the Court order that they deliver up the keys.

Customer:

The agent says very often landlords choose not to offer keys access routes

Alex Watts :

The Court will list the matter and decide whether to make the Order.

Alex Watts :

But its not in the contract

Alex Watts :

If it was in the contract you would be in difficulty.

Customer:

Ok you would expect that to be in contract that no access

Alex Watts :

Yes.

Alex Watts :

Otherwise they can't rely on it

Customer:

Yes I would not have accepted that

Alex Watts :

There would be no point otherwise contract

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else ?

Customer:

Rather than going to court what if I simply change the ,locks myself and hand them back the new keys at the end of the tenancy? since they say they never had keys...

Alex Watts :

Yes you could do that as well. That may be cheaper.

Alex Watts :

But you need to keep the parts of the old locks and not dispose of them

Customer:

Why is that?

Alex Watts :

Because it is the Landlords property

Customer:

OK - I think though I might be in breach as there are clauses in contract about not changing locks without permission

Alex Watts :

But you are offering the keys, so that is ok

Customer:

In terms of my legal rights though what are stronger grounds? - that I am I expected to be able to enjoy the property as I expected , or fire escape access, or both?

Alex Watts :

Both

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

What do I do with these forms if that is the route to go?

Alex Watts :

You submit them to your local County Court

Alex Watts :

https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/search/

Customer:

But I could consider just changing locks

Alex Watts :

Yes you could but offer the keys to the Landlord

Customer:

If I wanted to have a solicitor write to them saying 7 days then would one of your team be able to do this?

Alex Watts :

Sadly not, because its against site rules

Alex Watts :

We can't be instructed.

Customer:

OK, that's fine...last question... I probably don't want to use the doors till it's a bit warmer... any issue in me delaying or is it better to progress now at the start of the tenancy?

Alex Watts :

Well the problem may be is that say you agreed to the breach (the locks) by your inaction.

Alex Watts :

You can say that you reserve the right to bring action

Customer:

OK that's very helpful, thanks...

Alex Watts :

If you dont reserve your right then it may be deemed you accepted it

Customer:

OK so I should at least state my position whether I progress with Court action or changing locks in due course

Alex Watts :

Yes that is right

Customer:

what would be my exact form of words please?

Alex Watts :

You reserve the right to bring action without prejudice to your position

Customer:

OK and what am I implying by saying "without prejudice to your position"

Alex Watts :

By not taking action it does not prevent you from doing so in future

Customer:

Ok thanks

Customer:

Would it be correct to say that I consider them in breach of contract and unless they deliver keys or agree to have locks changed within a 7 day period then I reserve the right without prejudice to my position to either change the locks myself or bring Court action...?

Alex Watts :

Correct.

Alex Watts :

Because there was no term NOT to allow you access.

Customer:

Great!

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else ?

Customer:

Final related issue - the inventory was not quite correct, omitting various scuff marks etc, minor things but worth noting - I have mentioned this and not signed the inventory as yet, awaiting their agreement - what if they do not agree to my observations?

Customer:

The inventory was prepared by an independent - he just missed a few things

Alex Watts :

Yes, just clarify the things. They can't hold you to the disputed maters

Customer:

OK thanks

Customer:

Very helpful, thank you Alex

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question can I ask you to rate my answer before you go, the button should be at the bottom of the screen

Alex Watts :

If you need more help please click reply

Customer:

OK thanks, ***** ***** I have all I need

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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