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A "stranger" has a key to my house. Martin and Co don't care.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fiveub, 4 Nov 2015.

  1. fiveub

    Commissario

    Joined: 12 Apr 2008

    Posts: 49,041

    Location: OcUK HQ

    I currently rent a house through a popular letting agency.

    On Monday someone has clearly been in my house, I come back from work and my front door was locked, but, not normally how I lock it. I am the only person with a key to my house apart from I assume the landlord? And the letting agency.

    I called the letting agency the following day (Tuesday) as they were closed that evening, and I spoke to a manager there, they claim over the phone quickly that it appears no one has been round my house at their end. They said they would investigate and call me back. No call back.

    Today I called them again, apparently management were busy, and they were going to call me back. - No call back.

    I am concerned about the property that I am renting, if the agency have not been in my house, who else has a key to this property? I am concerned not only for my items that could be stolen very easily (someone has already been in the house, I have no idea if something has already been taken?) and also mainly for my safety.

    I was going to call them again tomorrow, but I feel via phone I am not going to get anywhere. It is a weird situation to be in, what steps would you advise, and I am likely going to try and visit the letting agency in person and go in.

    I guess asking for the locks to be changed is a start, but it would be nice if the agency actually cared. Two days without a call back is unacceptable.

    *Additional to all of this, we have a damp problem with lots of mold in the house. This was reported over 5 months ago. No care from Martin and Co there too. No one has been in to check it, quote it or repair it. They are just leaving it to get worse.

    **Recently, the boiler has broke, I have no hot water or heating in the house.
     
  2. Maccapacca

    Don

    Joined: 13 Apr 2010

    Posts: 18,035

    Location: Sunny Sussex

    Are you able to change the locks yourself?

    Worth doing if you're worried.
     
  3. oap

    Hitman

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 898

    Location: Portsmouth

    Change the locks yourself and tell the agency why you did it if they ever mention it?
     
  4. Spuddy

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 24 Mar 2012

    Posts: 1,683

    Location: Im In Me Mums Car

    Woah, I'd be feeling very uneasy if I was in your position.

    I'd demand that the locks be changed to be honest, I wouldn't ask.
     
  5. OhEsEcks

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 24 Mar 2012

    Posts: 7,051

    Location: Ulster

    Get the locks changed and send them the bill. If you're absolutely positive someone has been in your house, if it's not them, it's a previous tenant with a key.
     
  6. fiveub

    Commissario

    Joined: 12 Apr 2008

    Posts: 49,041

    Location: OcUK HQ

    I probably could get someone to do it, but is that my responsibility? And am I allowed to change locks myself on a rented property? And can I charge it to the agency?

    Are locks changed before a new tenant moves in? Could the previous tenant still have access to the property if they have cut a key?
     
  7. valkynaz

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Dec 2010

    Posts: 1,780

    Seems to me like the agency are fobbing you off or the person who is supposed to investigate is genuinely busy and has forgotten to call you back (I do this a lot in work so it's reasonable for me to think that).

    Get some sort of UV dust and spread it across the floor and certain areas of the house and/or get a hidden camera so you can see who it is, what time they have visited and where they have gone.
     
  8. Werewolf

    Commissario

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 30,136

    Location: Panting like a fiend

    That's worrying.

    I would definitely complaint to both the agency and landlord given the situation, as it is imo unacceptable under the circumsrances that they haven't called back.
    Besides the fact the agency has to give you notice as i understand it before they enter the property, they should have logs so it should be a quick check, there is the fact that you've potentially got an unsecure property.

    What you could possibly do depending on the type of door, is pop down to screwfix and get a replacement lock - if it's a double glazed door I think you can get a good replacement lock for under £20, ad they're a doddle to fit (I had to fit one to our garage door).
    AFAIK as long as the agency is aware you've changed the locks and you don't damage the door it shouldn't be a problem (and you can change the lock back when you leave).
     
  9. fiveub

    Commissario

    Joined: 12 Apr 2008

    Posts: 49,041

    Location: OcUK HQ

    Forgetting to call me back on the first day, fair enough, I can understand that, but twice. It leads me on to fobbing off. No email, no text, no phone call. I've received nothing from them.
     
  10. Lokai

    Capodecina

    Joined: 26 Jun 2008

    Posts: 17,108

    Location: Wakefield

    I would bet it's the owner of the property checking up on things (which they shouldn't be doing without notice) doubt it's a former Tennant. As has been suggested I would personally change the locks ASAP and bill the agency, mainly for peace of mind.
     
  11. FloppyPoppy

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 27 Jan 2012

    Posts: 7,630

    Location: The king of the north!

    Do you have the resources to set up some cctv ?
     
  12. fiveub

    Commissario

    Joined: 12 Apr 2008

    Posts: 49,041

    Location: OcUK HQ

    By law, am I not supposed to receive a letter, text, phone call, or something to say they will be coming to my property? Rather than just randomly letting themselves in?

    I have a webcam, I believe it is smart enough to detect movement and record footage. - But I have no idea if this person will visit again soon, or plan an attack, a robbery, or... god knows? I have no idea why someone has randomly entered my house.
     
  13. bayo000

    Soldato

    Joined: 28 Jan 2008

    Posts: 5,038

    Location: Manchester

    Depends on what kind of lock you have but if it's a simple one I'd just go to B&Q and replace the lock. Once EA/Landlord have chance to investigate you either give them extra sets of keys or put the old one in.

    This is why I think it should be a legal requirement for lock to be changed at start of each tenancy.
     
  14. Norfy

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Feb 2014

    Posts: 1

    I too rent through a letting agency. They have a set of keys to my flat, but have so far been ok. They did give the keys to a heating engineer to come in and fix my heating, but everything seems fine. I fitted a yale lock as soon as we moved in as the flat didnt have one. They DO NOT have a key to this [although I suspect they should have] so as I knew the engineer was coming I just left the yale unlocked so he could let himself in.

    I would go down the route of having an extra lock fitted for security as you honestly cant say who has a key to a previously rented flat. Don't change any locks as that may be breaking your tenancy agreement by changing without notifying, just add an extra one that only you have the key too. One that you can leave unlocked if they need to get in by prior arrangement with you. As long as when they have made arrangements to visit you are either there, or they can gain entry, it should be fine.

    Hope this helps :)
     
  15. Mynight

    Soldato

    Joined: 16 Jun 2013

    Posts: 5,437

    Best to look at your contract some have provisions preventing changing locks without permission. I don't think you'd be able to charge them to the agents though.

    A house I rented the previous tenants changed the locks and didn't provide keys before they moved out :(.
     
  16. jaybee

    Soldato

    Joined: 10 Jul 2008

    Posts: 5,720

    I wouldn't continue living there without all the locks to external doors being changes at cost to the letting agent/landlord unless an explanation was given. If they can't provide an answer or don't want to, then they should be changed anyway for their own interest as well.

    Otherwise, is it possible you could go via the police? I know it sounds silly, but it's quite major what has happened. Someone has - not broken in - but gained unauthorised access to the property. Even the landlord cannot simply come and go as he pleases. Even if he gives you notice you still have a right to NOT allow access. He can ask though.
     
  17. flame696

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 3 Mar 2010

    Posts: 1,036

    Just change the locks and keep the old locks in a safe place. When you leave your rented house in the future just remove your locks and replace them with the landlord ones. Every rented house i have lived in I have just done that. I went through exactly what you went through when i first started renting so since then any house i have moved into the first thing i do is to change the front door and back door locks. No need to tell the landlord/estate agents, if they need access into your property they need to give you 24 hours notice
     
  18. n111ck

    Soldato

    Joined: 31 Jul 2008

    Posts: 5,451

    Location: N/A

    Get a cheap Yale alarm - if they need access at any point they can call you for the code which you can then change.
     
  19. FloppyPoppy

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 27 Jan 2012

    Posts: 7,630

    Location: The king of the north!

    Whilst im sure it is likely the landlord or something without wanting to worry you as nobody seems to know who this is i would be concerned that somebody could be casing the place. I would certainly consider setting up that camera OR contacting the police about it. Or at the least let the letting agency know that if it's not solved you will be contacting the police.
     
  20. fiveub

    Commissario

    Joined: 12 Apr 2008

    Posts: 49,041

    Location: OcUK HQ

    Within 2 days, they should have an explanation, or some resolution at least.

    I am sure this is something the Police would get involved in, but I'd rather it just be resolved via the agency, but that maybe the route to take if they don't care. - At this point they don't seem to care, I will call them tomorrow more firmly expressing my concerns, and will ask about the locks too. Even if they refuse to put me through to management.