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  • Landlord & Tenant Law in the UK – Locksmithing

    As locksmiths in London we get asked a lot of questions regarding with the law around landlords, tenants and locks in the UK. Here we’ll provide some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

    Can a landlord change locks without the tenant’s permission?

    Not usually, though you should check your tenancy agreement to make sure that this is explicit. If your landlord would like you to vacate the property, they can change the locks in certain circumstances, but they must also give you reasonable notice of this. Such circumstances include:

    • When you share communal facilities with your landlord or their family (kitchen, bathroom etc.).

    • You’re living there as part of a holiday.

    • You don’t pay any rent.

    • You’re a hotel guest.

    If you are none of the above your landlord must follow a fair process to evict you.

    If your landlord just wants to change the locks as part of a routine repair they have certain obligations which they must meet in order to comply with the law; they are:

    • Meeting health and safety requirements.

    • Making sure you as tenants can live peacefully.

    • Accepting rent.

    • Keeping you informed.

    • Actually carrying out some repairs.

    • They give you a spare copy of the keys to the new lock.

    Locksmith can sometimes be called by a landlord to change locks. If you find that a locksmith attempts to change your locks but you didn’t ask for it and the landlord haven’t ask for your permission to do so; you basically have the right to send the locksmith away.

    Can a tenant change the lock without the landlord’s permission?

    Generally speaking, no, they can’t. There is no right to be able to change the locks and thus exclude the landlord from the premises without “cause”; and just what “cause” means is a legal minefield so it really I best to avoid this. Changing the locks without the landlord’s permission could lead to the following:

    • A breach of the tenancy agreement

    • Committing an act of criminal damage based on the premise that you are altering the state of the property with the landlord’s express consent (even though you aren’t technically damaging the property)

    Tenants can only usually change a lock when one or more of the following are satisfied:

    • The landlord has given you permission to do so (and it is best practice for this to be in writing).

    • If there is a clause in the tenancy agreement permitting you to make such an alternation to the property (this rarely happens; usually there is a clause the other way preventing this from happening).

    • If the tenant feels justifiable harassed by the landlord (if they repeatedly turn up unannounced or at inappropriate times etc.).

    • If the keys are lost a the safety of the tenant has been compromised.

    You’ll need your landlord to agree on a lock change.

    If the keys are lost or when you are locked outside of your home as a tenant you must always contact the landlord to inform them first, before calling to a locksmith.

    Moreover, if it’s a building you may even need the permission of the free hold owner to change locks. Especially when the lock is to the main entrance and when it’s electronic lock that operates with key fobs.

    A locksmith might not also be able to help when the issue is related to keys of electronic locks. So contact the building owner first.

    Who should pay for a lock change tenant or landlord?

    As a general rule of thumb, the cost sits with whichever party is at fault.

    - If the tenant has lost the keys or locked themselves out and requires a locksmith to drill the lock to gain access then the cost of the new lock sits with the tenant.

    - If the locks need to be replaced through general wear and tear, after a burglary or after an eviction the cost of the new lock sits with the landlord.

    - If, in the case of an eviction, the outgoing tenant damages the lock the landlord may be within their rights to withhold some deposit money to pay for the replacement.

    Etc.

    If you call a locksmith, please note that they will normally require a payment on site. Be sure that you can pay the locksmith as they probably won’t accept any “my landlord will pay you tomorrow” or any sort of similar suggestions.

    Must the landlord change the lock when a new tenant moves in?

    The short answer is that they are not obligated to. Often it will be the case that the locks are not changed as long as all keys have been returned when the tenant moves out.

    Really, the only time that a landlord would make this change would be if they are worried about the integrity and honesty of the outgoing tenant. If a landlord thinks that they may have made copies, or if they just feel that they have it in them to be disreputable, this will often result in the locks being changed.

    Can landlord lock out a tenant?

    No, they basically can’t; they must go through the court eviction process and the tenant can remain in the property until the process is complete. If it is decided that the eviction is lawful and fair the tenant will then be given an eviction notice and will have five days to vacate the property else they will face criminal charges. If they refuse to leave then a bailiff agent, local officers from the metropolitan police and a locksmith will return to evict and lock the tenants out of the property altogether.

    Can a landlord enter a property without notice?

    Many landlords think that they can, but the law protects tenants from such behaviour. A landlord can only enter a property with their tenants’ express permission and if they have a valid reason which is clearly articulated to the tenant. Examples of such access may be a gas safety check, a property inspection or to fit a new appliance. Popping round for a shower or a cup of tea is not acceptable!

    Landlords must still give 24 hours’ written notice of any visit, even when it has been agreed. They also must visit at a reasonable time of the day; no midnight property inspections!

    The info in this article does not provide a suggestion for any action you should take or a guarantee of any type. Before taking any action you are advised to talk to a lawful UK solicitor.

    Find more locksmithing related questions and answers.

    For locksmith services in London or more info contact our team of emergency locksmiths in London.

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