The Smallest Things can cause the Biggest Headaches !

Who’d have thought a padlock could create so much work !

Picture this……our tenants move out and leave our property in an immaculate condition. The tenants at number 2 however for some strange reason, decide to take the padlock off the gate in the communal alleyway with them and so here the fun begins !

A new padlock mysteriously appears on the gate, we manage to find out that both neighbours on either side of our property have a key to the padlock.

We discover that on one side the tenants are Portuguese and speak very little English whilst on the other side the lady is Italian. So we wimp out at playing charades and decide to attempt to resolve matters with the Italian lady. After numerous attempts to catch her at home we resort to leaving her a note asking if she can call us.

Sure enough we get a call. I ask her if she knows who’s put the new padlock on the gate and she tells me it’s the Portuguese man, she also confirms that only they i.e. her and him have keys to the new lock !

I do my best to explain that this is not ideal and point out the safety issues namely  that no-one can escape via the rear of their property in the case of a fire and also highlight the fact that everyone has a right of way in relation to the alleyway. I believe she understands what I’m talking about ?!

She asks what I want to do and I say could we borrow her key and get our own key cut or that a possible resolution could be to put a combination padlock on the gate and ensure that everyone is given the code for it. She doesn’t seem too keen on this idea, so I revert back to saying if she’s not happy with that we’ll need to get our own key cut. I explain that I’ll discuss this further with my husband and call her back and the conversation draws to a close.

After some discussion between ourselves we decide that we’re willing to bite the bullet and foot the bill for a combination lock as this is probably the best solution to the problem.

Before I get chance to call her back my phone rings and it’s the Italian lady again. She informs me that she’s walked into town and purchased a brand new padlock for the gate. Unfortunately once again this only has two keys ! She says she’s happy for us to have one and I ask her what everyone else is going to do, she says she’s not paying to get keys cut for everyone. I explain I’m not suggesting that she should do that for one minute. I politely highlight to her that the new lock doesn’t resolve the issues. She also goes on to tell me that I owe her £3 for the new lock ?! Funny because I can’t remember asking her to go out and buy one on our behalf ?!

Once again I suggest putting a combination padlock on the gate and ensuring that everyone is given the code for it. She still doesn’t seem keen on this idea but suggests that she could speak to some of the neighbours to see what they think about this and call me back and so I wait……………….

Some time passes and I hadn’t given it much more thought until my phone rang. I answered only to be greeted by Mrs. X from number 6 who kindly tells me that there’s no way she wants me to put a combination lock on the gate, she’s not happy about it and there’s been a padlock with a key on there for the last 30 years, etc, etc. I point out that we have now got to the stage of Chinese whispers and I didn’t say I was putting a combination lock on the gate but merely made it as a suggestion.

The conversation ends with me saying we’ll just get a copy of the existing key cut……when exactly remains to be seen if previous efforts are anything to go by !

Fast forward four days and we’ve managed to get a key cut……..that’s after going to the key cutting man only to be told it’s a cheap lock from China and he needs the padlock to be able to cut the key !!!!!!!!!!!!!! So another trip back to the property to retrieve the padlock to finally get a key cut….and a spare of course !

All of this just goes to show that sometimes tenants do things without thinking (thankfully it wasn’t our tenants) about the fallout. To them it was probably something really minor….taking the lock with them, but you can see how much earache and work it’s caused for the other people living in the street.

I think if one lesson is to be learned from all of this though, it’s to speak to someone face to face in the future especially where there are language difficulties. My conversation with the Italian lady somehow got lost in translation over the phone !