Here is a question to the blog clinic from Millie who is a landlord
I have recently become a landlady for the first time and I am not sure how to handle my tenants.
When they took up their tenancy they asked for a second lock to be installed on the internal door from the garage into the kitchen because they had been advised by an alleged security expert that the lock already there was not fit for purpose.
It locked the door so I couldn’t see what the issue was, therefore I did not grant their request but gave them permission to install their own deadlock.
Six months later, the property was broken into through the garage and the internal door in question was busted. Several of the tenants’ belongings were stolen or damaged but they told me they could not claim on insurance because the lock did not meet the insurer’s standards.
I was fairly confident that I have done nothing wrong, however I am having doubts now the tenants have started talking about legal action and using words like negligent. What’s your advice, do I call their bluff and stick to my guns or have I indeed not fulfilled by obligations?
I am sure I am not the first landlord/lady who has been put in this sort of position.
You don’t say what sort of lock it is which makes it a bit difficult to answer. For example if it was a chubb or mortice lock you are probably OK. The fact that the tenants have had their insurance claim refused though makes it look as if the tenants were right and the lock was substandard.
I have to say Millie, that it probably would have been wise to get a better lock installed when the tenants asked you about this.
It is not a huge expense, it would have kept them happy, and you would not have your current problem.
My feeling is that you may well be vulnerable to a claim for compensation. You would be able to defend such a claim by saying that you gave permission for them to instal their own lock – this may be sufficient but I am inclined to think that a Judge’s sympathies would be with the tenants.
One other point that occurs to me though – was the entry actually because of the poor quality lock? You say the door was busted. If the intruders entered by breaking down the door rather than picking the lock, then it would not have mattered if you had put in a different lock – they would have got in anyway.