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Not sure what to do next... anyone know what my position is legally?

(19 Posts)
lovecat Fri 22-Aug-08 09:17:00

We hired a cat-sitter for our holiday and gave her the spare key to the house.

She managed to lose this halfway through the holiday and borrowed my SIL's spare key, promising she'd leave it on the mat when she did her last day (SIL uses the key to do our cleaning, plus she's our emergency lock-out person).

We got back, I was suffering badly from a D&V thing so I went straight to the bathroom and stayed there for 48 hours - it was only when SIL rang me to get her key back that I realised we hadn't had the key returned.

I rang the catsitter, she was profusely apologetic, said she had now found our spare key and would drop them off - she then (rather peculiarly) asked if she could drop them off at SIL's work, as it was 'easier' (SIL works literally 5 mins walk from our house and there's no parking there), I said no, SIL was still off work for the school hols, could she bring them round to the house, if we weren't in could she post them through the letterbox. She said she would come round that evening.

Yep, you guessed it, she didn't. It is now nearly a month since we returned from holiday and we have no spare keys. I am leaving messages on her mobile and emailing her to no avail. Yesterday the phone was picked up, I said 'hello' and it was put down, I rang back it went to voicemail. Now, if she forgot to come, fair enough, but why doesn't she just say? I have asked if it's inconvenient for her to come round if I can go to hers and pick them up at a time to suit her - no response!

It's getting beyond a joke and SIL can't get in to do the cleaning so the house is even more of a mess than usual! Not to mention that someone out there has not one but two keys to our home... Security aspects aside, I am loath to get a new copy made while this woman still has the keys - will I have to change the locks??shock

So... is there anything that I can do? I don't have her address, she's just moved house (but the one time I did speak to her she swore blind that she had the keys safely), if she won't contact me do I have any kind of redress/is there any way I can make her give them back? Would the local trading standards people be of any use or would they not be interested - the police?? Am I overreacting? (probably, but the fact she won't call me back is beginning to seriously bother me)


MascaraOHara Fri 22-Aug-08 09:20:23

Seriously, I would get your locks changed..

the last thing you want in 6months time is to be burgled.

Also you might not be covered by your insurance as technically you can't secure your home... (Just a thought, I know nothing about this area)

dilbertina Fri 22-Aug-08 09:24:39

TBH given her weirdness, I'd change locks anyway as she could have had a spare cut.... Have you paid her yet? Maybe you could take cost of locks into account. I guess there is a very remote possibility that she is sick or has a family emergency....

FAQ Fri 22-Aug-08 09:34:22

I would get the locks changed too.

lovecat Fri 22-Aug-08 09:35:17

Unfortunately she was a last-minute thing and wanted paying up front (as do most cat-sitters, tbh).

She has a proper website and all (and is currently advertising her bank holiday pet-sitting service, so she's obviously still here!), she seems kosher enough, but this is now beginning to freak me out a little...

She has just moved house, so she told me, so she's probably got a lot on (this is my 'erring on the side of generosity' explanation for why I haven't heard back), but I want my keys back! <waah! smiley>

SlartyBartFast Fri 22-Aug-08 09:36:49

get those locks changed now, no matter your legal position.
and spare set made for your sister

lovecat Fri 22-Aug-08 10:13:36

So would anyone know if I can pursue her for the costs of getting my locks changed?

(am really worried now!)

ilovemydog Fri 22-Aug-08 10:20:14

How would you enforce it if you don't have her address?

SlartyBartFast Fri 22-Aug-08 10:21:22

your insurance might not be covered if you were robbed and you had given away your key ....
just do it

themoon66 Fri 22-Aug-08 10:23:51

Can you get her new address via her website?

I think you should change the locks and take her through the small claims court for the costs.

I know a few people who have used the small claims court and it has served them very well.

LIZS Fri 22-Aug-08 10:28:56

I'm not sure whether you have legal grounds for recouping costs other than throguh small claims. You,and your SIL, willingly gave her access to your home.

nervousal Fri 22-Aug-08 10:33:36

If you are worried about security of your house then getting your keys back won't help that - she could have gotten copies made? I personally would nver give a stranger access to my home. If I was you I would be considering getting the locks changed.

dingdong05 Fri 22-Aug-08 10:40:35

I doubt there's be any point in pursuing cost of replacing locks through small claims. It'll cost you a fortune and take ages. And then you may not get it.
If your worried just replace the lock, it doesn't cost that much, does it?

lovecat Fri 22-Aug-08 11:11:18

nervousal, she was CRB checked and had a ton of references - that's why I'm hoping it's just her being a bit scatty <crosses fingers>. Was I supposed to let my cat starve while we were away? Well, he got run over last week so at least I don't have to be so foolish as to let strangers into my house ever again - thanks for that really helpful commenthmm.

MrsTittleMouse Fri 22-Aug-08 11:21:11

Sorry to hear about your cat.
For what it's worth, I think that this is probably very innocent, and she's just scatty. I would still change the locks though, as even if she's completely kosher, she could have lost the key complete with your address (she must have written it down as she is a professional and not a friend, right?) and there is a slim chance that your key is in dodgy hands. It's not likely - after all nothing has happened in a month - but I wouldn't take the risk anyway.

mommy6 Fri 22-Aug-08 11:23:14

Is there any where on her web site you can leave a message for her?Perhaps asking her to contact you before you leave her feed back.

tink123 Fri 22-Aug-08 11:50:53

why not get a friend to pretend that they want to meet her in view of booking her services, then you confront her.

lovecat Fri 22-Aug-08 12:39:45

tink, I am seriously considering that!

I have emailed via the link on her site today and if I haven't heard by tonight I may well get my MIL to ring (as catwoman already knows SIL)...

lovecat Sat 23-Aug-08 10:51:33

Well, she has replied to neither email nor voicemail message, so I am going to get DH to call her on his mobile and ask about her dog-sitting service, as she does this out of her own home - we can then get the address and if I do decide to take out a claim against her then at least I know where she lives (that or go and sit on her doorstep til she gives me the keys!).

Getting really fed up with this now - if she's lost the keys (which is what I suspect has happened) why can't she just tell me? This ignoring me is just leading me to fear far worse is going on...

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