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Living arrangements and concerns

I am a student in the UK, and like many others, I share a flat with fellow students to reduce the burden of rent. After residing in this flat throughout the previous academic year, my flatmates and I decided to renew the lease for another year. However, we recently discovered that one of our former flatmates had made a copy of his key before moving out. This means that even though he returned the original key to the letting agency, he can still access the flat whenever he pleases.

The issue with this former flatmate is that he is quite controlling and manipulative. He cannot come to terms with the fact that he will now be a guest in our flat during the upcoming academic year rather than a resident. Naturally, myself and the remaining flatmates are not comfortable with the idea of him having access to the flat without our consent. We now find ourselves in a predicament as we fear reporting him to our letting agency might incriminate us as well.

Is his behavior illegal?

Given the situation, it is crucial to determine whether or not his actions are legal. While I am not a legal expert, it appears that his behavior could potentially breach our right to privacy and security within our rented premises. We did not consent to him retaining access to our flat, and his entry without our permission could constitute trespassing. However, to gain a more accurate understanding of the legal aspects, it is advisable to consult a legal professional or contact an authority that deals with such matters.

How can AI Legalese Decoder help?

In this perplexing situation, AI Legalese Decoder can be a valuable tool to assist us. This AI-powered platform is designed to interpret complex legal jargon and provide clear explanations, ensuring that we grasp the legal implications and potential courses of action. By utilizing AI Legalese Decoder, we can gain the necessary knowledge to navigate this situation effectively.

Possible actions to consider

1. Seek legal advice: Consulting with a legal professional can provide us with a comprehensive understanding of our rights and the potential legal implications of his actions. This will help us make informed decisions regarding our next steps.

2. Discuss the matter with the letting agency: Although there is concern about potential repercussions, it may be necessary to make the letting agency aware of the situation. Explaining the issue and expressing our discomfort can prompt them to take action. AI Legalese Decoder can help us better comprehend our rights as tenants and provide guidance on how to effectively communicate our concerns.

3. Explore options for changing locks: While you mentioned that you are not allowed to change the locks yourselves, it might be worth discussing this option with the letting agency. AI Legalese Decoder can decode any relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement that pertain to lock changes and clarify your rights concerning this matter.

4. Mediation or conflict resolution: If tensions arise within the group due to reporting this former flatmate, it might be helpful to consider mediation or conflict resolution. AI Legalese Decoder can provide guidance on potential resources or services that can assist in resolving conflicts within a sharing accommodation setup.

Remember, the information provided here is not legal advice, and it is advisable to consult with a legal professional or seek guidance from AI Legalese Decoder to address your specific situation effectively.

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View Reference


  • the_rosamundi

    You can change the locks quite easily. So long as you keep the old barrels so you can swap therm back in at the end of the tenancy, this is legal to do. However, under the circumstances the letting agency may be happy for the new locks to remain in situ – talk to the agency.

  • Efficient_Act3439

    you are legally allowed to change the locks, just give spare keys back to the estate agent or wait till the end of your tenancy.

    You ex flat mate is literally breaking the law and entering illegally.

    1. Contact the police
    2. Change the locks
    1. Provide spare keys to estate agents (or do it when the tenancy is up)

  • KonkeyDongPrime

    Report to the estate agent. They may change the locks, just make sure they don’t try to bill you for it.

    Back in my student days, landlords would use a certain type of key type, that locksmiths wouldn’t copy without the valid paperwork.

  • Whitewitchie

    Absolutely tell the letting agency that you feel threatened by a creepy ex flatmate who is accessing the flat and making you uncomfortable. Change the locks and give a copy to the letting agent if you have to do so. You might be able to get some simple alarms you can hang on the door overnight, so if he tries to get in, it goes off. Talk to your other flatmates about that. Also, learn some self defence moves. He has absolutely no right to do this. It might be an idea to talk to the police, as he is intimidating you by entering your home and making you feel unsafe. This is something they should act on. See if you find out his full name and DOB if you can. Report it to your university if he is registered as a student there still. Go nuclear!

  • CoffeeIgnoramus


    As long as they’re off the contract, I would tell the agent. It’s in their interest too.
    You can say you weren’t aware and you don’t feel safe with them having a spare key.

    I think the agents would understand.

  • MrSpaceCool

    Not legal advise. Tell the estate agent, they may contact your ex-flatmate to return the copied key, or ask them to replace the lock. He may be trespassing if he’s isn’t welcomed by any of you guys.

    Edit: if you feel unsafe due to this ex-flat mate having keys, make a police report online or call 101. Make sure it’s all documented in case anything happens down the line.

  • Accurate-One4451

    Assuming he was removed from the new lease it would be a breach of their old lease to retain keys so report it to your landlord.

    In the short term swap out the locks, you are allowed to do this if you rent the entire property even if the lease says you can’t.

  • Pins-N-Needles_

    >we are afraid to report him to our letting agency in case we are also incriminated.

    Incriminated for what?

    Change the locks, issue all residents with new key and let the landlord know and give them a key too. Explain to LL that you are happy to change the old lock back before you leave.

    This is perfectly legal.

    Edit: spelling.

  • TastyCh1ckenSoup

    Change the locks and make this so called friend aware they can only enter the property when invited, if they are seen using a key which they haven’t been given the police will be called for breaking and entering.
    I’d get a door camera as a detterrent towards them even thinking they could enter without being seen.

  • doomdoggie

    Change the locks immediately, call a locksmith, get a receipt (you might be able to get reimbursed)

    Then take a copy to the letting agent and say:

    “The old tenant _______________ walked into the flat his old key, he apparently made a copy.

    We were scared for our safety, the guy is nasty.

    So we changed the locks. Here’s a copy of the new keys.”

  • Dapper-Letterhead630

    Change your locks and don’t even invite him as a guest.

  • UK-USfuzz

    How would you be incriminated? Tell him to get lost and that you’ll call the police if he enters again, I know it’s just civil at this point and there’s no crime, but as soon as he starts using the water, elec. etc. then that’s entering as a trespasser AND stealing, hence burglary, the theft and burglary are both police matters.

  • DonkeyRhubarb76

    Get the locks changed asap. Contact the letting agents and advise them that he has retained a key to the property after ending his tenancy. If he turns up causing issues, contact the police. I’d go so far as to tell him his behaviour is unacceptable and advise him that he no longer has instant access to your living space, it may stop it before it gets out of hand.

  • davesy69

    NAL. Tell your letting agent that he still has copies of the keys. They should replace the lock and issue new keys, which won’t cost you anything.
    Alternatively, you could change the lock barrels yourself, it’s easy to do and just replace them when you leave.

  • Goldman250

    NAL, but my advice would be to immediately change the locks and contact the letting agency. They won’t blame you for a former tenant having copied a key – I’m pretty sure he’s in breach of his tenancy agreement if he’s kept a copy of the key. Keep hold of the old locks, just in case.

  • BoysenberryGlass3162

    Either change the locks or have the agency do it tell them he still has a key but as other people said, don’t let them bill you this isn’t your problem.

  • Frosty-Presence2776

    Definitely talk to the letting agency/landlord as a priority.

  • justbiteme2k

    If you decide to buy a new lock barrel as many have suggested, don’t forget not all locks are equal.

    If you replace your current lock barrel with a super cheap one, your insurance could in invalidated and if you don’t change it back before you leave you could lose some deposit if it’s lower quality to the one you replaced.

    Just a couple of things to check.

  • Ok-Educator850

    Report to the agency and let them know you changed the locks.

  • Gee_dog

    I mean from the legal point- you are fine. He had a contract and part of the contract was to return the keys at the termination of contract. So even if you shared the property- it doesn’t affect you. I think the right thing to do is to mention to your property company that he may have a copy and you feel like he may try to access the property. It is up to them to deal with it.

  • evavu84

    Nothing to add but maybe you guys could club together to buy a ring camera for extra security too, once you get the barrel changed. Then if he shows up he won’t be able to get in but you’ll be able to have video evidence of him trying to trespass.

  • ApexHunter47

    I’d be very surprised if your tenancy contract doesn’t expressly forbid copying keys

  • Spaniardlad

    It’s always fascinating how someone does something illegal because they clearly don’t give a shit about you, and the reaction from the inflicted is to care about the repercussions to the person in the wrong. Just go straight to your letting agency and ask them for advise.

  • Green_Bow


    ” I guess what I’m asking is, is what he is doing illegal..?”

    Yeah its illegal, i think most contracts prohibit making copies

    He’s deceived the Letting agent by handing in the keys but keeping one, what happens when that room is let?

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  • Babaychumaylalji

    Change the locks(you may need a locksmith or not depending on the complexity) make sure u keep the old barrel and keys and switch it back when u leave. Also you can inform the landlord/letting agent.

  • StonedOldChiller

    The easiest option is to get him to hand the key over next time he comes round. If you’d rather avoid a direct confrontation then it’s usually a lot easier than you think to change a lock. Depending on the type you can do the whole thing for most locks in 10 minutes and all you need is a screwdriver. You can get replacement locks at any hardware store for just a few £s

    Your landlord might do it, but how long that takes and how much you get charged for it will be completely out of your control.

    Otherwise a locksmith will do it, but you may end up paying them £100 or more.

  • xiionaa

    Change the lock. Alert your leasing office and tell them the reason why.

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