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Locked in bedroom and 'rescued' by firemen - is landlord responsibly for fixing based in doors?

27 replies

Margerine78 · 02/12/2019 13:12

I had an incident in my newly moved into a rented flat where I got locked in my bedroom late one night. The door handle wasn't moving the bolt. I managed to take the front of the door handle off with nail scissors and whole lock mechanism collapsed. I managed to get on Facebook (I had laptop but not phone with me) and my sister saw the post, tried to find a locksmith who could get to me quickly and couldn’t, so called the fire brigade, which involved them bashing in the front and bedroom door. Now the bedroom and front door need repairing and letting agency seems to be avoiding the issue.

There’s a much bigger background to this — the flat when I moved in had a big electric issue that took a week to fix, so I was without heat, lights, working sockets etc on and off for days and I had to resort to using a chain of extension leads plugged into a socket in the communal hallway, leading through to my flat. The electrician suggested I do this so I wasn't completely in the dark and without heat but said not to leave the extension lead plugged in for a long period of time (definitely not overnight) for safety reasons.

Also, I moved in to discover the flat’s very easily accessible balcony door doesn't lock and the large main large lounge window that didn’t lock or even shut, so it’s Baltic but also a break-in waiting to happen (and I’m a woman living alone). I should note the flat ain't cheap either!

If it wasn’t for the flat being so woefully unprepared for a tenant to move into, me being locked in my bedroom wouldn't have been such an emergency as the fire and break-in worry wouldn’t have been an issue. Also it’s clear the door must’ve been faulty/sticking for ages for it to have broken on me, so it’s another issue with the flat not being up to scratch.

I feel like it’s 100% the landlord (via letting agency’s) problem as it involved locks and fixtures, plus after letting me move in when so much was seriously wrong with the flat I kind of feel like the least they owe me is to not argue the toss!

AIBU expected the landlord/agency to fix the doors?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


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HebeMumsnet · 06/12/2019 12:10

Just bumping this for you, OP, in hopes someone will be along soon who might have some advice.


lanthanum · 06/12/2019 13:21

My daughter's bedroom door handle had a similar failure, and I promise you we didn't see it coming, so I don't think your landlord was negligent on that count. You presumably hadn't noticed a problem previously.

Did the firemen not try dismantling the handle from their side? We were able to get in once we'd taken the plate off on both sides (fortunately we were able to get a screwdriver under the door, and even more fortunately, the screws weren't too tight for a 5 year old!). It's a shame the firemen didn't know to get in via the balcony!

I would have thought the damage from the incident ought to be covered by the landlord's insurance. I think you need to get back to the letting agency and point out that this needs fixing urgently. You could point out that if it's not, (a) you will have to stay elsewhere for your own safety, and (b) that will leave the flat very vulnerable to break-in and further damage.

If the other issues have now been fixed, this is a separate issue, although I do appreciate the cumulative effect.


Rainbowshine · 06/12/2019 13:30

Contact Shelter or Citizens Advice, they may help you compose what to say to the letting agents and landlord using official terminology to make them get their act together.


threeicklepickles · 06/12/2019 13:37

This sounds horrendous op.
Try contacting your local councils Environmental Health department, they deal with issues like yours all the time.
They can do a survey (HHSRS) and it's likely the issues with broken locks, and cold issues will score high and they can force landlords to do the work.
Is the letting agent part of a regulation scheme? If they are report them to the regulators too.


NobJobWinker · 06/12/2019 13:37

I think my opinion would depend on whether you could reasonably have found a solution which didn't require the front door being bashed in.

Does anyone else have a key to your flat or are you the sole tenant?
Could you (or sister) have emailed the landlord?

If there was no other solution then it is definitely the landlord's responsibility and is a direct consequence of the lock on the bedroom door being faulty


TheElfFellOffTheShelf · 06/12/2019 13:42

Yes, get in touch with Shelter and ask their advice. Your landlord (and letting agency) is treating you appallingly.

When our internal door handle broke meaning we couldn't get from the kitchen/dining room into the rest of the house without going outside our landlord (housing association in our case) arranged repair that morning, the same as when our wired in smoke alarm kept going off for no reason.


Hannah4banana · 06/12/2019 13:44

I'm not sure where you are op but in Scotland the fire service would produce a special service report for this. I'm a firefighter not fireman Grin if you write to their hq they can provide you a copy of the report, it might have extra info on it that you can use for evidence.
Way too many landlords getting away with this! The electrician also gave you terrible advice, you should never link extension cables together, it over rides all the built in surge protection and overloads the circuit.
I hope you get it sorted x


BarbaraStrozzi · 06/12/2019 13:48

I can't believe there are people saying you're being unreasonable. There must be a lot of Rackmanite landlords on MN these days.

Local council sounds a good place to start, as I'm sure there must be legal minimum standards a place has to meet.


Ishoos · 06/12/2019 13:53

Second getting advice from Shelter - alternatively do you have a legal helpline either via your employer or house contents insurance that could advise on the law?


mencken · 06/12/2019 14:04

sounds a shithole, and a pricey one at that. Best bet is to give notice and leave. Meantime contact the LANDLORD and demand fixes.

no need to bother phoning Shelter, all info is online.

EPC? Gas safe? How to rent doc? smoke alarms?

bet I know the answers...


Jaxhog · 06/12/2019 14:12

Been there (although it was our own house). I was lucky, DH was in the house so could find pliers, etc. to undo the door. It was not a locked door as such - the spindle mechanism failed, which I'm guessing is what happened to you.

I would have thought it was either the landlord's problem i.e. poor maintenance or a claim on your insurance (you do have tenant's insurance, don't you?)


BertieBotts · 06/12/2019 14:35

Same thing happened to my bedroom door at my mum's house. It just suddenly went one day. I think it's a fault with the specific type of door (was it a late 90s/early 00s new build?) when we looked inside the inside of the lock was plastic and the door part was metal and the metal had simply worn away the plastic over about 10 years until it was completely smooth on the inside.


NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 · 06/12/2019 14:56

I guess the letting agents will argue that you should have waited for an emergency locksmith, not got the fire brigade in to bash down the door down.


lboogy · 06/12/2019 15:00

YANBU. Landlord sounds irresponsible


Notodontidae · 06/12/2019 15:03

You phoned the fire brigade for something as trivial as that, dont you know anyone else in the world? I hope someones house didn't burn down while they were busting your front door.


CAG12 · 06/12/2019 15:05

I had this exact problem with my bedroom door. Got locked in and had to call the fire brigade to let me out. It wasnt as bad as you, they were able to get in through another upstairs window and just had to breakdown the bedroom door. Luckily I had made a video of the door not opening (to show my then bf who was away). I complained to the letting agency and showed them the video, and the landlord paid for a new door.

Your landlord sounds terrible. The lettings agency should be pushing him to make the property safe


NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 · 06/12/2019 15:07

The fire brigade wouldn't have come out if they had an emergency elsewhere Notodontidae and they would have left mid-call if an emergency had come up.

But the landlord will definitely say that you should have waited for the locksmith. It was late at night so they would have been with you first thing in the morning.


CautiousPractice · 06/12/2019 15:07

Same thing happened to me. I had been living there a few months, and had issues with pretty much all the door handles. The bathroom and bedroom ones were sticky, the living room one didn't shut and the front door didnt lock from the inside so I had to use the chain. I flagged them up the first week and was told they'd get back to me. I was home from work, and had gone to lie down because I was recovering from a flare up of my long term health condition, and had shut the door because there was a lot of noise on the street outside the front door. Woke up an hour later to go use the toilet, and the door handle turned but nothing happened. I tried a few times before I started to panic. My health issue means I have no power or strength, so was unable to get any force to pull the door open. Luckily had my phone, so could ring my mum, who didn't answer, so immediately called my dad. My mum and sister were round in under 10 mins, while my dad stayed on the phone to keep me calm, but I had put the chain on the door, however my living room window overlooking the garden was open. My sister hopped over the 6ft fence at the bottom of the communal garden space, managed to squeeze her arm through the small gap in the window, to release the catch and open it enough to climb through. She then let my mum in, and they kicked the door down, my sister accidentally putting her boot through a spot of the door that had a split in it. The whole thing was so hilarious afterwards, but at the time absolutely terrifying. I called the landlords the next day to get the repairs followed up on. Within a week I had a new front door lock with a turn lock instead of a key, 3 new door handles, and a new bedroom door. The bathroom door handle comes off now if you pull it too hard, but doesn't stick, so so far we have never gotten trapped in there. We need to replace it really, but I always find it funny when people come out holding the handle apologising for breaking it.


timeforawine · 06/12/2019 15:11

I had this happen, thankfully i got trapped in my entrance hall so could go outside and get help, once i got in i called my landlord and he got someone out the next evening to fix it


Vanhi · 06/12/2019 15:13

Did the firemen not try dismantling the handle from their side?

I suspect the fire fighters just wanted to get the job done and move on.

You phoned the fire brigade for something as trivial as that, dont you know anyone else in the world? I hope someones house didn't burn down while they were busting your front door.

If they'd got another call out they would have gone on to that one. But they are often called Fire and Rescue these days because much of their work is rescue from various situations. They'd much rather get the OP out in this situation than have her locked in somewhere especially since by the sounds of it the place has faulty electrics. If the fire fighters had had better things to do, rest assured they would have made the call and done that instead.


kleew1 · 06/12/2019 15:17

This happened to my tenant - front door, she contacted me. I arranged for a locksmith to come out that night and fix it. There are also 24 hour nationwide locksmiths who can attend at a ridiculous price (£150 plus) but I was willing to pay that for my tenant.

I guess the question is, can you show you took reasonable steps prior to the fire brigade coming to do that.

E.g - call landlord/letting agency, call locksmiths (evidence) and so on.


kleew1 · 06/12/2019 15:17

For what it’s worth, if I was uncontactable etc or in your situation, I’d be happy to pay for the new door.


User478 · 06/12/2019 15:26

This happened in our student house, the key broke off in the bathroom lock and we couldn't open the door, we would have called the fire brigade, but luckily our neighbours had a long ladder so my housemate climbed out of the window and down that way (only in a towel!) The landlord replaced the door the next day (with a normal lock door).

The fire brigade would much rather help you out before there is an emergency than break you out in an emergency.

I hope you've negotiated a discount on your rent to make up for not having electricity or secure doors.


TheBouquets · 06/12/2019 15:35

I have had my first and last experience of renting from a Landlord's Agents.
There are organisations that they have to be members of and they have to adhere to the guidelines of those organisations. They are probably different in every country of the UK. I assume that you are in the UK. You could try Property Ombudsman or Association of Landlords. Look at any communications you have from them to see if they are members of any thing.
They should have issued you with a gas safety certificate and an electric safety certificate. Agree with the firefighter PP that was awful to have a chain of extension leads to provide electricity. The Agents have to have the property in good order before they give the tenant keys.
Time these rogues were made to comply with regulations or face severe financial punishment and loss of licence


CanIHaveADrink · 06/12/2019 15:35

@kleew1, the OP would have struggled to call anyone wo a telephone....
She managed to contact ONE person, her dsis,. Her dsis DID call a locksmith who couldnt come quickly. I wouldnt have expected the OP to have had all contact details of the landloard, estate agent etc.. with her in the locked bedroom. Aka its completely different than the issue with the front door where you have access to the whole of the house, (incl water and a bathroom - you can wait for quite a while in that situation. Maybe not as much in a locked bedroom...)

Tbh if it had been my house, I would have done the same. The OP was on her own in a house that isnt actually secure. What else would you have expected a tenant to do? send you an email and wait for whatever time/day you see it to send someone in??

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