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Landlord Stole My Bike

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I moved into a shared ground floor flat in S London a few months ago, have lived in a few rental properties through the years and always paid rent on time, left places nice and got my full deposit back.

On the day I moved in we signed the contract, and as welll as the usual stuff I was surprised to see a clause in it saying "the tenant promises not to keep a bicycle anywhere about the property". It seemed there wasn't a lot I could do at that point since I was moving out of the old place that weekend and didn't really know the other guys in the new flat so I just signed the contract thinking "what bloody business is it of yours as long as I don't mess the place up?" Since then I've been keeping my bike in the communal front hall, always careful not to track dirt in and no harm has been done to the walls. Whenever the (v posh and uptight) landlady or her handyman come by they both cycle and leave their bikes in the front hall.

Anyway, as I was off to work yesterday I saw the handyman was around to fix something in one of the other flats and had left his bike and some paintpots in the front hall next to my bike. When I got home from work that evening, my bike was gone. I can only assume the landlady or the handyman took it as nobody else can get through the front door, and we know the people in the other two flats and they are lovely.

I know I was in the wrong in breaking the "no bikes" clause, but honestly I'm so tired of being dictated to by landlords who think they can order their tenants not to cr4p on a Sunday morning. Do you own the property? Yes, well done, good for you. Am I paying (quite a lot) for the use of it? Yes I am, so fvck off and leave me alone, I will always return it in excellent condition and if not you have a massive deposit to take damages from as you see fit. This is why people want to buy their own house, just for the freedom of living by your own rules. Roll on HPC...

P.S. Any advice on what to do would be nice, but honestly it hardly seems worth kicking up a fuss. It was an old bike, probably worth about £70-80. It's the principle and the invasion of my territory that makes me so mad. Landlords who want to dictate their tenants' lives should spend more time worrying about their own.

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I moved into a shared ground floor flat in S London a few months ago, have lived in a few rental properties through the years and always paid rent on time, left places nice and got my full deposit back.

On the day I moved in we signed the contract, and as welll as the usual stuff I was surprised to see a clause in it saying "the tenant promises not to keep a bicycle anywhere about the property". It seemed there wasn't a lot I could do at that point since I was moving out of the old place that weekend and didn't really know the other guys in the new flat so I just signed the contract thinking "what bloody business is it of yours as long as I don't mess the place up?" Since then I've been keeping my bike in the communal front hall, always careful not to track dirt in and no harm has been done to the walls. Whenever the (v posh and uptight) landlady or her handyman come by they both cycle and leave their bikes in the front hall.

Anyway, as I was off to work yesterday I saw the handyman was around to fix something in one of the other flats and had left his bike and some paintpots in the front hall next to my bike. When I got home from work that evening, my bike was gone. I can only assume the landlady or the handyman took it as nobody else can get through the front door, and we know the people in the other two flats and they are lovely.

I know I was in the wrong in breaking the "no bikes" clause, but honestly I'm so tired of being dictated to by landlords who think they can order their tenants not to cr4p on a Sunday morning. Do you own the property? Yes, well done, good for you. Am I paying (quite a lot) for the use of it? Yes I am, so fvck off and leave me alone, I will always return it in excellent condition and if not you have a massive deposit to take damages from as you see fit. This is why people want to buy their own house, just for the freedom of living by your own rules. Roll on HPC...

P.S. Any advice on what to do would be nice, but honestly it hardly seems worth kicking up a fuss. It was an old bike, probably worth about £70-80. It's the principle and the invasion of my territory that makes me so mad. Landlords who want to dictate their tenants' lives should spend more time worrying about their own.

Why don't you report the little shit to the police for theft?.

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Is there a managing agent for the block? Have you seen a copy of the LL's lease with the managing agent that list the restrictions on anyone who lives there?

We have a similar problem with bikes and also pushchairs left in the communal areas (plus wheelchairs and mobility scooters). The Managing Agent keeps removing them as they are classed as a fire risk and every owner has that in their copy of the lease as a restriction. This restriction is then passed on to the tenant.

I don't have a problem with these items being in the communal areas but some people do. It could have been someone acting of behalf of the agent who removed the bike. You could also have a self appointed busy-body in your block. One of my upstairs neighbours is fanatical about this. They reported another neighbour who kept her pushchair on the landing and kept insisting that the managing agent threaten her.

They may be lovely to your face and not so lovely behind your back. My neighbour only found out when she got a lawyer involved. Just an idea.

Good luck.

Edited by Flopsy

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Is there a managing agent for the block? Have you seen a copy of the LL's lease with the managing agent that list the restrictions on anyone who lives there?

We have a similar problem with bikes and also pushchairs left in the communal areas (plus wheelchairs and mobility scooters). The Managing Agent keeps removing them as they are classed as a fire risk and every owner has that in their copy of the lease as a restriction. This restriction is then passed on to the tenant.

I don't have a problem with these items being in the communal areas but some people do. It could have been someone acting of behalf of the agent who removed the bike.

There's no agent, the landlady manages the property herself. In our tenancy agreement it says the tenant undertakes not to keep a bicycle anywhere on the property. However, it doesn't say what the penalty for doing so is, and I'm pretty sure taking my bike away from my home without warning is theft, even if I am a renter and therefore lower than cockroaches on the evolutionary scale.

Thanks for your thoughts though. All I want is a quiet place to rest my head and a bike to ride to work when the sun shines. It doesn't seem too much to ask.

Edited by bearly legal

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I agree that it's an outrageous thing to do.

In my block the managing agent places notices on the offending item, then sends letters and then takes it away. Most of the time it goes unpoliced - unless there is someone who cares and complains.

It's indicative of how tenants are treated i.e. the clause. I find it very hard to get a sample AST out of agents and LL's and this is after paying a "holding fee". They do it on purpose and due to the stress of the situation and the lack of choice that sometimes occurs tenants are taken advatage of.

I don't know how that clause would stand up in court as it appears arbitrarily enforced, interferes with your "quiet enjoyment" and others leave their bikes there. Remember to take photos of this next time just in case you need it for defense (i.e. if your LL harasses you in other ways and it end up in some legal action).

In my area of central London the police are terrible at this sort of crime. Would you feel OK about reporting it (and at least getting a crime number) or ringing your LL and asking outright?

Edited by Flopsy

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I don't know how that clause would stand up in court as it appears arbitrarily enforced, interferes with your "quiet enjoyment" and others leave their bikes there.

It's not just any old 'others' who leave their bikes there, I've seen the landlady do it herself (before I moved my bike in)!

I do wonder about the clause, I believe they can't just stick any old thing in the tenancy agreement and it will be enforceable just because you signed. There is such a thing as an 'unfair term' which is not enforceable. For example there's this from Office of Fair Trading:

Group 18(h): Unreasonable ancillary obligations and restrictions

4.47 We will generally consider terms to be unfair if they impose requirements or restrictions on the tenant that are more severe than is necessary to protect the landlord's real interest in safeguarding his property, and put tenants at risk of incurring penalties if they breach those requirements or restrictions (see also Groups 5 and 18©).

OFT leaflet

I don't know if a bike in a front hallway is considered a risk to "the landlord's real interest in safeguarding his property". I guess it would need a test case to clarify it but who wants that kind of nonsense in their life?

Suppose I should just phone her up, feel a bit ridiculous asking someone "Hi, how's it going, just wanted to ask if you stole my bike from inside my home yesterday?" :lol: I've had a couple of bikes stolen in my time, this is the first time the thief had a key to my front door though!

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There's no agent, the landlady manages the property herself. In our tenancy agreement it says the tenant undertakes not to keep a bicycle anywhere on the property. However, it doesn't say what the penalty for doing so is, and I'm pretty sure taking my bike away from my home without warning is theft, even if I am a renter and therefore lower than cockroaches on the evolutionary scale.

The landlady will only manage the rental of your flat, not the block. There will be a management agent who manages the block on behalf of all the owners of the flats in that block (for a monthly fee). Their responsibilities includes stuff like arranging maintainance of communal gardens, cleaing of communal areas and maintenance of stairwells landings and other communal areas. The rules relating to not allowing bikes to be left in the front hall probably relate to fire regs. or maybe H&S, and could well be stipulated by the insurers. So if anyone had removed your bike it's probably someone from the management agency.

Alternatively, is it possible that the hanyman may have left the door open while he was painting (paint fumes etc.) and it was nicked by an opportunist thief?

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I have to say I haven't got much sympathy for anyone who leaves personal property cluttering up a communal space, particularly an access route, but that doesn't mean you deserve to have your bike taken.

First you need to establish that it wasn't an opportunistic thief that took it. If it indeed was your LL or her handyman that took it (I can't really see why the handyman would care, actually) then they are probably waiting for you to ask them so that they can give you a lecture. Cut short the lecture with a threat to take them to court to order them to return the bike (or reimburse you for the value thereof), plus court costs. I imagine they will return the bike pretty sharpish.

Then find somewhere else to keep your bike!!! What makes you think you have the right to clutter up the communal hallway?

EDIT: I had to smile when I read the comments about reporting a theft to the police in the hope of causing difficulties for your LL. Such touching naivete among the HPC community! A bike theft report is for one purpose only: insurance. Police, particularly London police, do not investigate bike thefts. Period.

Edited by MacGuffin

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UPDATE: I called the handyman, he said the landlady told him to take the bikes away (apparently another tenant's was there too) and he had them in a garage round the corner. He asked if I'd spoken to the landlady, I said I didn't see why I needed to talk to anybody to get my private property back, he agreed and met me there and gave them back. He was actually pretty sheepish, I said I understood she was his employer and not to worry. Anyway my bike (and the other tenant's) is safely back (and not in the hallway...), if she wants to phone me up for a lecture then she can pay for the call!

I agree no point in calling the police, I've had bikes stolen years ago and they couldn't have been less interested. Anyway in this case as a lawyer friend of mine pointed out I'd rather be on the wrong side of a civil contract (tenancy agreement) than a criminal offence (theft).

Edited by bearly legal

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Its a difficult situation when people leave stuff in communal hallways in breach of fire regulations and in breach of their lease or tenancy agreement.

If the building's owner does nothing about it, and someone trips over the items, or there is a fire, or even some sort of inspection for fire safety, he is in trouble.

If the people in the flats (whether leaseholders or tenants) won't move the things, what should happen?

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So all's well that ends well. Good.

I have to say I do have sympathy for the LL in this case, as well as the OP. I would imagine the LL would get in trouble with the owners of the other flats in the building if she was not taking steps to ensure her tenants obeyed the building rules.

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Its a difficult situation when people leave stuff in communal hallways in breach of fire regulations and in breach of their lease or tenancy agreement.

If the building's owner does nothing about it, and someone trips over the items, or there is a fire, or even some sort of inspection for fire safety, he is in trouble.

I seriously don't buy this argument. Firstly, if your corridor is so narrow you can't walk past a bike in the event of a fire, then you must be living in some kind of medieval castle. Secondly, if you trip over the bike then you should look where you're ****ing going as they're large enough to be easily seen.

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It's got naff all to do with the flat 'owner' whether or not there are bikes in a communal area where she doesn't even live. It's not her responsibility. Why doesn't she go around all the blocks of flats she sees and take all bikes out of communal areas? It makes about as much sense.

There is a very odd sense of self importance eminating from some of these debtors us wealthier folk are providing a much needed income for.

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@cybernoid:

It is VERY MUCH the flat owner's responsibility to make sure her tenants are not disturbing or inconveniencing other residents. Leaving a bike in the hallway is clearly not in the same league as drug-dealing, violence, loud parties all night, etc but it's still inconsiderate.

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It's got naff all to do with the flat 'owner' whether or not there are bikes in a communal area where she doesn't even live. It's not her responsibility. Why doesn't she go around all the blocks of flats she sees and take all bikes out of communal areas? It makes about as much sense.

There is a very odd sense of self importance eminating from some of these debtors us wealthier folk are providing a much needed income for.

It *does* have something to do with the flat owner, because of communal rules that forbid bikes, pushchairs etc to be left obstructing a shared hallway.

Apart from inconveniencing the other residents, if the landlord or freeholder allows a fire escape route to be clogged up, and something was to happen, he could be in real trouble.

The above of course assumes that this is a situation where there is a standard narrow hallway and that the bikes partially block it.

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Sounds bizarre to me, how is it the landlords problem if the tenant is breaking some rules? Aren't the tenants responsible for themselves? If I shoot someone in a place I rented did the landlord do it? And if the landlord has a mortgage on the property is it the responsibility of the shareholders of the bank to move a tenants bike, seeing as they don't actually own the property the bank does?

seems like nonsense to me, ho hum, who'd be a landlord eh.

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Just for clarity, the landlord owns the whole building and there is no management company (it is quite small).

Anyway I'm happy to accept that I broke the rules by "keeping a bike about the property", although it certainly wasn't inconveniencing anybody as the common area is large and empty - according to the tenancy agreement it doesn't matter whether it's in the hallway, my bedroom, or up my ar5e, we are just not allowed them at all as I discovered when I was read my rights the day I moved in. My main problem is the way the landlord decided to deal with this - not with a phone call or a letter or even knocking on the door, but by walking away with my personal property as if she had any legal entitlement at all to do so. At first I thought it had been stolen (I mean, by a normal thief). Tenants should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anybody else, and that includes respect for their private possessions.

A German friend of mine is always astonished (not in a good way) at the difference in the way tenants are treated in London compared to Germany, and I think this is because only 10% of people live in private rented accommodation in the UK compared to 36% in Germany. Why would anybody bother to stand up for tenants when there are not that many of us?

Anyway all's well that ends well, so who cares? Not me! Overbearing landlords are just one more reason to get out of rented some day.

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