Letting Agent refusing key handover

Will try to keep this short, but had our application accepted for a property a couple of weeks ago and passed all tenant checks quickly, but the letting agent delayed sending tenancy agreement. We thought this might be down to the landlord as she wanted to meet us at the property yesterday. They ended up finally sending the agreement on Friday 8th which all parties signed.

The tenancy starts tomorrow (12th March) and we are due to pick up keys at 10am. This was agreed with the letting agents at 3pm today.

At 5:30PM, the landlord herself contacted me to say that the letting agents have said the tenancy cannot begin and keys won’t be released because they went to check the property and the smoke detector isn’t working. The letting agent did not call us and didn’t ask the landlord to call us, so if she hadn’t, we’d have no idea about this!

The landlord advised them she could have it fixed for Friday and if they could give us the keys anyway, which letting agent refused.

Landlord has now sent an email to them saying we have an agreement that I can have access to the property and I will install a new (temporary) battery smoke detector until the wired in one can be fixed on Friday. We have yet to have a response, but I want to be prepared in case they refuse this.

I don’t blame the landlord (even if legally it’s down to her), as the letting agent have left everything until last minute and didn’t even tell the landlord that an inspection would be done. 2 previous tenants have lived there with the smoke detector not working since 2016, so they clearly didn’t do these inspections previously.

So… what rights do I have? I understand I could put pressure on the landlord, but I feel like our solution is fair and there’s no reason legally they shouldn’t allow it. I’m not collecting keys as the tenant, but as an authorised person acting on behalf of the landlord to install a smoke detector.


It is a legal requirement to have an annual Gas Safety Inspection and the smoke alarm would have been checked by the engineer as part of the inspection, so it is unlikely that it hasn’t been working for the previous tenants. It has more than likely become defective between inspections. It could just be the battery needs replacing. Even wired smoke alarms have battery back up. You have the right to sue the landlord for breach of contract although this wouldn’t be the ideal way to kick off the landlord/tenant relationship. Delaying until Friday is not ideal either.

Ask the LL if she would be kind enough to meet you at the property as previously agreed.
You will come with a spare battery (most likely the rectangular 9 volt type) and a new battery powered smoke detector (ÂŁ20.00) in the event replacing the battery to the existing smoke alarm is unsuccessful.
Once you have demonstrated that there is a working smoke alarm in the property you will sign a checklist confirming this as well as the receipt of all other documents that make the tenancy compliant.

Energy Performance Certificate, Electrical Installation Condition Report, Gas Safety Certificate, how to rent guide etc etc.

Problem Solved!

Don’t think alarms fall under their remit

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I agree - they may check the CO alarm. The problem occurs when the agent checks the smoke alarm immediately prior to a new tenant moving in - it is supposed to be done on the first day of the tenancy - and it fails. This is what seems to have happened here. Very difficult for all concerned because of the legal requirement.

You are entitled to claim the cost of temporary accommodation from the landlord, who can in turn make his complaint formally to the agent.

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How difficult is it to install a smoke alarm? Quick trip to your DIY shop of choice, a ladder and a screwdriver and you’re good to go.

I have just looked at one of my GSCs and it shows that the CO alarm is tested but the smoke/heat alarms are given a visual check but not tested.
My apologies for the mis-information.

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If you can’t do it yourself because you don’t live nearby for example, &you are relying on the managing agent to get someone in to do it, it may take a couple of days. Clearly this LL can’t do it themselves hence the letting agent changing the move-in date.

If it can’t be done in time either the let is illegal or the tenant can’t move in - that is what is difficult!

Nah… IMO the agents have dropped the ball on this one. Very simple for them to ensure compliance quickly for the sake of all concerned. The LL even said she could get it sorted but agent refused.