GAS METERS FOR 3 FLATS IN BASEMENT FLAT STORAGE AREA STORAGE AREA
23/02/2011 6:50 pm
My Mum has lived for the last 20 years in a basement flat in a large house split into 3 flats. She has her own front door (solid) and behind that door is a storage space and her flat door. (half glass) Both of the flats upstairs have a lockable storage area each and for all the time my mum has been a tenant she has used the space outside her door for storage of 2 bikes (both v.v. expensive!!!) ladders etc.
The gas meters for all 3 flats are in my mums storage area, and it hasn't been an issue until now, however, a new tnt has recently moved in upstairs and has had a prepay meter fitted, asked my Mum for a key to her storage area and is now able to come and go freely.
My mum doesn't feel comfortable with this man being able to
A) see into her home
B) come into her basement area with his staffordshire pitbull, which she is petrified of
C) potentially leave her home unsafe if he neglects to close the solid street door for any reason
Also, if any items were to go missing from her storage area, who would be responsible? Could she claim from the Housing Trust? The space is not lit, therefore if said tenant were to come down in the night, and tripped over her bike or something, would she be liable? It is not a communal space, she is aware of the regulations regarding communal spaces and the space he is using to store her items is not obstructing exit in case of fire etc. She is very upset about this and feels like her home is no longer secure. She does not wish to be obstructive however and understands the tnts need for a prepay meter, but feels it is at her inconvenience. Advice please!
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
23/02/2011 9:53 pm
I think it might be advisable for your mum to check whether there is not something buried in the tenancy that either gives her exclusive access to the storage area, or if she has to allow access (known as an easement)to the services in her storage area, in which case, if there is a right of access, they may not be a great deal that she can do other than store her bikes elswhere.
It doesnt sound like an ideal situation at all, but presumably the gas meters are there baecuase they can't go anywhere else!
25/02/2011 9:06 am
I would advise you write to your housing association, making clear all your issues and demand from them they give clear answers to all of them in writing.
It is likely they will try to fob off some of your concerns so you got to insist to have every detail clarified.
for example, aks what is your housing association going to do if your mother comes into that area and is attacked by the dog?
what is the housing association going to do if the other tenants keelp living the communal door open?
Never stop until you get every answer down in writing, as by what you say I have no doubt that sooner or later something nasty will happen, although I strongly hope not. But doing so you at least will have proof you have made all concerns well known to your housing association.
04/03/2011 12:07 pm
"Never stop until you get every answer down in writing, as by what you say I have no doubt that sooner or later something nasty will happen, although I strongly hope not. But doing so you at least will have proof you have made all concerns well known to your housing association."
I'm not sure that's really the right approach. Obviously your mother has concerns, and it's natural that after 20 years of the status quo, she's a bit put out by the change. The answer to whether the other tenant has a right to access the meter is probably 'yes'. I'm not quite clear on whether the storage area is part of her dwelling or just an antechamber. In other words, the question will be whether it's covered by the tenancy agreement as part of the home, or whether it's a communal area to which she has a key (like a staircase in a block of flats, for instance). However, it's unlikely that he would be allowed to just come and go as he wishes, leaving the premises insecure.
Realistically, the landlord probably won't be able to lay down all the answers in writing, and a more concilliatory approach to them may pay dividends in this situation. It is an unusual situation, and it's unlikely that a housing officer will know the answer off the top of their head, or be prepared to commit to paper their thoughts in a letter of reply. I would suggest a discussion with the landlords about your mother's concerns, with an attempt to agree a way forward. That doesn't mean "letting them off the hook", but it does mean that they have some room to maneouvre. In the real world this isn't "fobbing off" a tenant or resident, and is more likely to give the housing officer an opportunity to understand your mother's concerns, and respond sensibly.
Dogs can cause unease, and she could check with the landlord their policy on dog ownership - it may be that it has been granted as a contractual right, or it may just be implied. Either way, it probably doesn't really matter. The point is that it's causing a nuisance (probably). That being the case, the landlords could ask the owner to control his dog and abate the nuisance, or ultimately to remove it.
As for liability for injury... that's a whole different kettle of fish, and you would probably have to take advice on that. It depends on who controls the space, and the injured party's right to be there (if any). In short, it's too complicated to explain here, and a lot of further detail would be required.
I think this is a complex situation, which with the answer to a few questions could be solved relatively straightforwardly - but I think the initial questions (such as who controls the storage area, what's his right to be there, what does his Tenancy Agreement say about the dog, etc) need further enquiry, and it may be a bit too complex to sort out without legal advice.
10/03/2011 11:19 am
The key to the problem lies with the housing association. They know what part of the premises amounts to a communal area for use by all the tenants. Form the way you have described matters the area in question may well be a communal area. When tenants use communal areas they must use them in a manner that does not cause a nuisance and annoyance to other users. So it is simply a case of the landlord clarifying the position on the use of the area and reminding everyone of their obligations.
10/03/2011 12:29 pm
Is there a actual definition of a communal space or is it just what the HA deems communal. For instance, there is no lighting or light for that matter ( no window) it is basically an under stair space.
10/03/2011 5:26 pm
Yes - it is the space or amenity that is not within individual properties or for the sole benefit of individual or identifiable occupants; i.e. that space which is common, a facility for all, or a portion of the property upon which all depend (e.g. the roof).
As the stairs are obviously communal, and could not exist without the space beneath them, then that space is also communal as it does not form part of an individual property.
A leasehold RSL I worked for calculated the communal floor area as the portion of square foot floor space remaining after all of the individual unit floor space is deducted, for instance.
Hope that assists.
10/03/2011 6:12 pm
sorry, should have said that the space is under the EXTERNAL stairs, not the stairs in the communal space.
10/03/2011 6:16 pm
Also, the space is not and has never been maintained by said HA, unlike the communal space upstairs in the upstairs part of the building, which has flooring, lights and is decorated when cyclical works are done....
11/03/2011 2:20 pm
Sorry Pud - I concentrated on answering your definition request and did not add to the substantive matter.
Intermal or external, it's still communal.
However, the precise circumstance that you describe sounds as if Mum has acquired access to a communal area which could never be truly sole area owing to the meter locations. Do check with the landlord though that Mum is not meant to have sole access, and is thus paying individually for the space.
The neighbour issue is difficult if it can not be resolved through conversation, especially as the other tenant should have access to their own meter.
Taking this forward as a non-conflict matter seems prudent. Check what is included in the rent. If there should be soul use then the meter issue will need to be resolved by the landlord and / or suitable rent reduction made. If common, then finding a way to make the situation liveable is the priority, which means getting along with the neighbour unfortunately.
11/03/2011 4:12 pm
I can understand this being a concern and good on the lady tenant for appreciating the situation.
As an ex Housing Employee for 32 years in what can now only be classed in the good times and now working for heating company. How about this........... let's resite the meter!! The landlord will need to back this but the utilities and other landlords come across this all the time. So keep me posted if unachievable. I had this conversation with a Chief Exec of mine last week who entered Social Housing with me 33 years ago, it went like this ..... Has SOCIAL HOUSING GOT BETTER AND ARE WE OFFERING A BETTER SERVICE THAN WE DID 33 YEARS AGO????
11/03/2011 4:37 pm
An excellent solution Anonymous, but of course all the service charge payers would need to consent to funding the cost - which you will be aware is extraordinarily high - and there needs to be a safe alternative location for the meters to be placed in.
However - definately one to explore, especially if it gives this lady the extra secure utility.
11/03/2011 9:12 pm
PSR...... You are quite right. Service charges are calculated differently by everybody and sometimes you don't always spend what is in the budget. So there could be scope. Everybody slags off the Utilities some of which is justified especially when you have been on the phone for 40 minutes before they speak to you!
If you can speak to the right person I have found them to be ever so helpful and share the cost, there not skint are they. The problem is one of the other tenants could move out and it could be a new tenant who also wants a Key for their meter. Then it will be 2 out of 3!!
Let's hope it gets sorted eh.
We only seek solutions to problems and I would be really happy if it could be sorted because it would be brownie points all round...... and we all love brownie points don't we?