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  • Threats of legal action

    I am a Housing Association tenant in a ground floor flat in a row of terraced houses, access to the back of the house is either through my flat, or up onto a flat roof over my front door & then a 30 feet drop by ladder into the back garden. Every 5 years builders arrive to paint the outside of the house front & back & i have to endure enormous pressure to let the builders/painters/scaffolders access to the back of the house through my flat as they say that health & safety regulations will not permit them to go over my front door & then have to negotiate the 30 feet drop by ladder. I have let them through on the last two occasions even though i am disabled & the stress was tremondous as they were coming in & out of my flat so many times every day for 3 weeks. They also brought scaffolding through with long boards & long metal poles, scratching furniture & damaging my fridge freezer in the process. Then we had painters coming through with trays of paint, leaving the front door open in the middle of London, walking accross our new carpets & getting paint marks on it. Also because i had allowed them all to pass through i then had to answer the doorbell continously as some of the builders men were working on other houses locally & kept turning up at the door asking to use our toilet as they had been refused elsewhere, & i felt obliged to let them in also, then we had Surveyors & Housing Association staff in & out as well, it was like a mad house. When they had finished the work the last time i said to my wife never again as i felt like i was about to have a breakdown & she felt the same.

    Now the time has come again & i have the builder saying the same things, when i told him that we were not going to allow anyone through this time he said the Housing Association would get a court order to make me let them come through. HELP, i FEEL LIKE I AM DROWNING & i just dont know what to do as i feel like i cannot cope with them all coming & going & using my bathroom , walking all over my carpets in their dirty boots/shoes etc. Cans & trays of paint, & a team of scaffolders with all that goes with them, scaffold poles & scaffold boards in & out, does anyone know if there is anything i can do to stop them making our lives a misery & is it true that they have a legal right to use our flat in order to carry out Housing Association work on the back of the house? I would be grateul for any help on this, Thank You,

  • #2
    Hi Blackhillman,

    Welcome to the Forum!

    I am sorry to hear about your problems, but can't help thinking that if you are a Housing Association tenant, there will be a clause in your Tenancy Agreement that will say that the Association has the right to reasonable access for maintenance - normally with a period of notice. The maintenance is in your interests as well as other tenants.

    This is quite standard to all such tenancies. Yes, they can enforce it if necessary too.

    The trades ought to do everything in their power to protect your belongings and that includes your flooring too. You can also tell them to keep their muddy boots off your floors too! Decent trades will not need to be told to leave their muddy boots at the door.

    They certainly don't need to be bringing full trays of paint through either - talk about asking for trouble! They can pour the paint outside from sealed cans.

    If they have damaged anything, you will be able to claim the cost off their insurance and possibly compensation for inconvenience. Did you do this last time?

    If you really feel that this will be so detrimental to your health, ask to speak to the Housing Officer to see if they can at least move you out temporarily (decant). It's a long shot, but worth asking bearing in mind your health statuses.

    Perhaps, now you know what to expect, you can make your wishes crystal clear to them before they start and I think this time round might not be so bad for you

    Good Luck



    • #3
      Sorry to hear about the stress, Blackhillman,

      Good advice from Mazza. Not much to add: contact the Housing Association & let them know of the previous damage, and the stress. There may be a right of access, but that doesn't mean a right to damage your property!

      Could there be any alternative access routes through other similar ground floor flats? I presume you have ground floor neighbours, and that they also have back doors...
      "Poor Tom shall lead thee" (King Lear)


      • #4
        Thanks for the advice Mazza & Poor Tom, i did know about the reasonable access clause in my agreement but i considered that to mean access to my flat to carry out work inside my flat, & that this would not apply to other work outside where there is alternative access to the back of the house. The work that i am talking about is to the whole of the back of the house which is about 30 ft wide & 50 ft high. As there is a route for builders to take in going over my front door onto a flat roof which is about 6 feet above the door & then accross the roof & then by ladder into the back garden which is a 30ft drop i would have thought that this would be the way for them to carry out these decorations. The scaffolding could be erected & then it would be easy for the work to continue. I would like to know if this is considered a reasonable way for them to access the back of the house If i was in work then they would have to go over the roof as there would be no one to let them through my flat, i feel they are coming the old soldier because i am at home most of the time. I also think that if i moved out for the 3 week period there would not be much of my property left as the builders constantly leave the front door wide open. Would you leave your home for 3 weeks Mazza to be used by a bunch of strangers & would you have no objections to other people ringing your doorbell & wanting to use your toilet day in & day out as well as all the other things we have had to endure, I would appreciate it if someone could give me some constructive advice on how to keep these builders etc from tormenting me. Myself & my family are the sole tenants on the ground floor which is self contained, there are two other floors with flats above & other tenants, but they are not affected by these decorators. We are not unreasonable people as i think you will gather, as we have let them through on two occasions before when the painting has to be done. Its just that we feel we cannot take it anymore because of the stress etc. Regards Blackhillman


        • #5
          Hello there,

          It sounds to me like they are being cheeky, if they can use you house it's less work for them. They don't have to build extra scaffolding to reach the back. Also if they have access to your house, they can use your toilet, in a warm house instead of walking back to base to use theirs.

          You could lie and say that you both work now, and sorry but you cannot leave the keys with them. Your house insurance would not cover this.

          Failing that I would get some advice from the citizens advice bureau, or some free advice from a soliciter.



          • #6
            Welcome to the forum BHM From what you've said it sounds very stressful as well as the sheer inconvenience of it all!

            As others have said you are undoubtedly entitled to compensation and an insurance claim on the damage they do/have done to your property. Get it in writing to them and claim if you haven't already. If you're having trouble, maybe your local CAB can also assist you?

            Do you have home contents insurance? It probably won't cover you for their damage but worth a check and also advising them that this is occurring, they may want to become involved.

            As Mazza has said, are there any clauses/extra info in your agreement about this access? Or just what you've listed?

            Either way, it's an intolerable situation for you and I would certainly not move out for 3 weeks because of them and their work. It doesn't sound 'reasonable' to me personally, but from a legal standpoint it is worth getting it checked if you can.

            When are they next due around? Maybe if you do ignore them and see what happens? It does sound like they can access in other ways like you've said. They are obviously being extremely careless and shoddy in damaging your things at home, you could perhaps claim this is criminal/deliberate damage and is being done deliberately.

            Have you ever complained to the HA before? If so, what happened?



            • #7
              Hi Blackhillman

              Sorry to hear about your situation but I can see that other members have given you some good advice already. Personally, I would be down to see a solicitor right away. Nobody should have to endure such intrusions into their home. Perhaps you should see if you can sue under the European Convention for Human Rights. Your right to a private and family life is obviously being infringed.

              Surely the council or HA could find a better way of doing their maintainance work rather than use you home as public convenience and thoroughfare to the backs of the properties? I don't this could be classed as reasonable access!

              Don't let them get away with it without a fight. :rant: You have a right to enjoy your home. Good luck.

              "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


              • #8
                Hi again ,

                from what I can visualise from what you have described, I don't think they will view going up and down a ladder with a 30 ft drop as being acceptable from a Health and Safety point of view - especially if they are having to move materials and equipment. :unsure:

                I am just wondering if any other ground floor tenants can give access at all. The buildings don't sound to me to have been designed all that well if the only access to the rear is through your property.

                You first port of call has to be your Housing Officer as you sound so upset at even the thought of all this work. Does your Housing Association know how affected you were last time? Have you explained this?

                I am sure they will be sympathetic to your concerns. If they don't know how much you suffered last time, they will be oblivious and unable to ensure that things are better this time.

                Even so, it sounds like you were treated very badly last time and there's no excuse for that. You didn't say if you complained to the Association or made a claim on their insurance last time (or under their Tenant's Charter) - you would have been entitled to do so.

                You must stand up for yourself . If you feel unable to do this, perhaps get a third party to speak up for you - the CAB as Matthew suggests is a good start as they can make phone calls for you, etc. Or perhaps a relative or friend? Or even another neighbour who is affected by this work too?

                Hope you can get this sorted - it might be better this time round as they may not be using the same contractors and you certainly do not have to let them use your facilities whoever they are !

                Good Luck



                • #9


                  sorry Blackhillman,

                  I think I have a better picture in my head now I've been out for a bit :lol: .

                  Reasonable access here would mean for them to be able to erect the scaffholding initially and then do all the work from the outside and in this case I would say that they shouldn't be traipsing through with the poles, but go up and over your front door.

                  I would say it would be fair enough for a guy to be let through your rear to help guide the scaffholding poles down from the outside. I initially thought you meant they should work from a ladder all the time! Reasonable access should also be given to the painter to paint your ground floor windows, doors etc (if applicable).

                  They certainly should not be traipsing through your property at all if they have erected scaffholding. And if they aren't erecting it, why not?

                  I still feel that you (or someone on your behalf) should see your Housing Officer asap though, and preferably the Housing Maintenance Manager to make it clear what you will and will not tolerate. (and them using the toilet is certainly not tolerable!)

                  Good Luck



                  • #10
                    Hi Blackhillman, and a tardy welcome to the forum from myself

                    (Had a few access problems the website, since it has moved!).

                    I would personally be wanting a personal meeting with the Chief Executive of the H.A. (or someone suitably high up) by now, as I think you've endured enough previously. You may well end up having to provide access, but if so, I think the H.A. should be considering the disruption and stress this has caused you previously, and look at all ways they(and their contractors) can cause you minimum disruption on this occasion. As well as discussing compensation for previous damage!

                    It may be worth checking if there is an independent housing advice centre in your area to look at the terms of access, and make sure you know what that legally is. Also to help you protect your rights if they are being abused. Maybe have a look at the link below


                    Wishing you luck in getting some clarity and consideration


                    (link amended)


                    • #11
                      I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Mistyeyeddreamer,Goosegirl, Saphirelily, Mazza, Poor Tom, & Matthew, for your assistance & help with giving me advice about my problem with the builders/painters/scaffolders etc. In fact i dont think i have ever met such a decent & helpful group of people in all my life. The latest news is that the Housing Association have postponed the work on my flat until next Spring, so we have a while to seek legal advice about the matter & to take stock of all the helpful advice that you have all offered to us. It is great to have someone to turn to & i thank you all again so much. Regards John :thumbs:


                      • #12
                        Hi again BHM (John!)

                        I am very glad to hear the good news!

                        Please be sure to speak/write to them in plenty of time to put your fears across.

                        A decent Housing Association is there for its tenants and will treat your concerns very sympathetically and I am confident that this situation can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction .

                        At the end of the day, you are paying for this work through your rent, so it needs to be done to your (and other tenants') satisfaction.

                        Come back and let us know how you go! I am also very glad you found this forum useful :blush: .



                        • #13
                          Hi John,

                          good to hear you now have some time to put your views and needs across!

                          I think its dreadful that they think its ok to come in and out of your home, just because its the council doesnt make it ok in my opinion!

                          let us know what happens please, we love to hear sucess stories, and I am feeling this might be one! :lol:

                          I would contact your local councilor as well as the housing office, as many people as you can think of who might be involved, put your view across and do not let them forget you!!!


                          • #14
                            Hi John

                            Very pleased for you that the work has been postponed! This will give you the breathing space to get advice, and put your case across to the H.A. from a stronger, more-informed point of view (engineering a position of more power ).

                            Enjoy the next few months without disruption, but don't leave all this too long.

                            Good luck, and let us know how you go!