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Private Student Accommodation charging 1000+ for a broken lock on flat door

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Author Topic: Private Student Accommodation charging 1000+ for a broken lock on flat door  (Read 73 times)
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« on: July 13, 2021, 01:02:15 AM »

Hi everyone,

 New to the forums so looking forward to your advice.

- My son was in private student accommodation whilst at uni.
- The door to his flat room had been jammed one night, and he was essentially trapped inside his room with no way to leave.
- He got his mate to report the problem to the reception the next morning (one the reception had opened) so that they could send someone to repair / unlock the door.
- The repairman was sent to the room, who my son claimed was hammering away at the door frame from outside the room. The repairman did not verbally speak with my son during this time, nor give any timelines on when he expected the door to be repaired.
- The repairman was unable to unlock the door and left without providing any further notice/timelines to my son.

Having now been trapped in his room for in excess of 10+ hours, my son used proportionate force from the inside to try to unlock the door. Given that the doorframe had also been chipped away from the outside by the repairman, the lock broke relatively easily and my son was able to finally leave the room.

Now, the private accommodation company is charging us a rather extortionate rate of over 1000 to repair the door/lock.  They claim that the reason for this high cost is due to them requiring external contractors to install the door.

Can you kindly advise on our legal rights and how we can drop this disproportionate fee?

Surely the landlord owes my son a duty of care, and given that he was trapped in his room for over 10 hours, he would have effectively been unable to escape in the event of a fire.
Furthermore, the accommodation staff nor the repairman communicated any timelines of when to expect the door to be unlocked. Under these circumstances, is it not reasonable for my son to have attempted to unjam the door himself?

The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation NOT Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments notes the following clauses which I believe have been breached per the information outlined above:
Quote
4.10 Any repair works that are required meet with the following performance standards:
Priority One Emergency Repairs are completed within 24 hours of a report of a defect. These would be any repairs required to avoid a danger to health, a risk to the safety of residents or serious damage to buildings or residents belongings
THIS WOULD CONSTITUTE AS AN EMERGENCY REPAIR GIVEN THAT THE TENANT IS TRAPPED INDEFINITELY INSIDE THE ROOM. No timelines nor repair status updates were communicated to my son, so there is a genuine risk that my son's health and safety may have been at risk (e.g. if a fire had broke out).

Quote
7.21 All exit routes within the building, such as hallways, landings and staircases, so far as they are under the control of the landlord and as far as reasonably practical, are maintained safe and unobstructed to enable evacuation of the dwelling in the event of fire
THE FLAT'S JAMMED DOOR WAS THE OBSTRUCTION IN THIS CASE

Many thanks in advance!
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2021, 09:46:55 AM »

It would have been a good idea for your son to actually speak to the repairman to ask what was going on,and telephone reception to tell them he was going to have to kick the door open.That said,I can't see how any of this expense should be passed on to you.Are they claiming that the problem that caused it to stick in the first place was down to some damage your son did? If not,then I would refuse to pay anything and tell them you will contest this for the reasons you have given here.Replacing a faulty door is a landlord's responsibility. I also think the costs  claimed are high if this is a standard door.   
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2021, 10:07:29 AM »

Yeah no, even if replacing the door is a cost that can be charged to the tenant (and I would question whether that's even the case), it doesn't cost 1,000.
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2021, 10:47:33 AM »

It would have been a good idea for your son to actually speak to the repairman to ask what was going on,and telephone reception to tell them he was going to have to kick the door open.That said,I can't see how any of this expense should be passed on to you.Are they claiming that the problem that caused it to stick in the first place was down to some damage your son did? If not,then I would refuse to pay anything and tell them you will contest this for the reasons you have given here.Replacing a faulty door is a landlord's responsibility. I also think the costs  claimed are high if this is a standard door.

The usual process is for students to report the issue through an app. This makes things trickier because my son never had the app nor was registered on it (due to compatibility issues with his phone). Due to this, he got a friend from another flat to report the issue to the reception the next morning when it opened. My son did claim to have called the number in the early hours of the morning, but naturally, the offices were closed and so he decided to report the issue to reception via his friend the next morning. Are there any past cases that I can use for our defence?
Thanks.

Yeah no, even if replacing the door is a cost that can be charged to the tenant (and I would question whether that's even the case), it doesn't cost 1,000.

Agreed. As seen in this national trade organisation webpage (https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cos...tallation-cost), average cost of a fire door installation including material, labour and waste removal would only amount to 300! We made this counter-offer to the company but they rejected this and continue to want the extortionate 1000+ charge. Once again, the reason they claim for this is that they need qualified FIRAS certified engineers to fit the doors for compliance reasons, but again given the circumstances, do we have any grounds to dispute this high fee?

The company has said that they will contact the bailiffs to recover this sum so I wish to see whether there are any specific cases or legislation that I leverage to challenge this high cost. Thanks in advance.

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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2021, 10:56:41 AM »

Can we get some clarification on the exact status of your son? You mentioned that the landlord is private but then it also sounds very organised related to the uni. Is he on an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord who just happens to have some form of relationship with the university?
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2021, 12:12:29 PM »

Can we get some clarification on the exact status of your son? You mentioned that the landlord is private but then it also sounds very organised related to the uni. Is he on an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord who just happens to have some form of relationship with the university?

Yes thats correct - shorthold tenancy with private landlord (i.e. a national student accommodation company)
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2021, 01:55:38 PM »

The company has said that they will contact the bailiffs to recover this sum

Ooh, did they also say the bogeyman will get you? Bailiffs can't act without the authority of the court. In order to get to that stage, the landlord will need to bring and win a case (probably small claims) against your son. Even then, you'd have ample time to pay the CCJ before bailiffs could get involved. They're just banking on you paying up to avoid the faff.

Check your home insurance and/or your son's insurance to see whether that legal expenses cover you automatically buy and then forget about covers this sort of thing. Might be worth getting the Students' Union on the case too.
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