Here is a question to the Blog Clinic from Charles (not his real name) who is a tenant:
I have a peculiar problem.
I live in a block of flats on the nth floor and we have a balcony.
When we moved in we found, to our surprise, that the landlord was not going to provide us with a key to the balcony door, for the key had been lost. So, we can open the door but not lock it.
He assured us that we would be OK, because the flat was on the nth floor.
So far so good, but recently we found out that the development manager intends to put scaffolding up in and around the wall of the development, making our flat vulnerable to builders or whoever else might gain access to the scaffolding, opening the balcony door and walking in.
I have asked the landlord to provide a lock with a key for the door, but in reply he said that to replace the lock you need to replace the door, and the door is no longer being made, and by the policy of the development, one cannot replace the balcony doors with a different design, so the job cannot be done.
What I would like to know is, first what are my rights with regard to ensuring that people cannot just walk into the flat through the unlocked balcony door? If someone should steal from the flat, can I claim a refund from the landlord? Does this state of affairs constitute a breaking of a contract?
And second, if it was possible to replace the lock, and the landlord refused to carry out this work, could I replace it myself without being deemed to have broken the contract? Could I sue him for the cost of the work?
At the end of the day, despite the different questions, all I want is for the flat I live in to be secure, so any advice on these issues would be welcomed.
I don’t think the landlord can reasonably expect you to put up with a situation where your property is insecure in this way.
One thing which occurs to me is that you could maybe put a bolt on the door.
However if for any reason this is not possible, write to the landlord saying that it is unreasonable to expect you to live in a property where a door, which now can be accessed by builders, is incapable of being locked, and that you will hold him responsible for all and any losses you suffer as a result.
Maybe if you do this he will find that perhaps it is possible to put a lock on the door after all …
If YOU have a problem, why not put it to the blog clinic? However there are a lot of questions submitted, so if you need an answer quickly remember that members of my Landlord Law service can ask me questions in the members forum area, and will normally get an answer with 24 hours.