Masterlock? Maybe just journeymanlock.
June 21, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

We live in a two-story duplex in Portland, OR. It's a converted single family home with an interior stairway connecting the two units. There's a door at the bottom of the stairway which sort of locks but not really. How do we deal with this? Special snowflake details inside.

The door at the bottom of the stairs is just a normal solid-core interior door with two slide locks, one on each side. Prior to today we didn't really think this was a problem. The downstairs tenants were respectful, and the tenants before them were the owners of the house.

The tenants just moved out and the cleaning crew was over, and one of them just opened the door and walked up the stairs. We wouldn't have even known he was here except that he started calling the landlord asking why there was a bunch of crap in the stairwell (we use it for storage).

I've asked the landlord on multiple occasions, both written and verbally, to install a lock on the door that neither tenant has a key to. So far it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. I just now submitted another maintenance request to have that done and threatened to install our own hasp and masterlock and mail them a key. Let's assume for a second nothing happens.

Is it legal to install our own lock on that door? What are the ramifications of doing something like that? This previous question had some good answers about the possibility of just jamming the door shut, but it opens into their apartment so jamming it isn't viable.
posted by zrail to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depending on where you are, the landlord may have a legal responsibility to install a functioning lock. Search for [your area] tenants' rights.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:34 PM on June 21, 2012

There appears to be a residential tenancy act of some kind, maybe there is information here.

I have lived in exactly the same situation (we also used the stairs for storage) but luckily we had nice downstairs neighbours. I can't see how installing your own lock would cause any problems, as the downstairs tenants presumably have their own separate access, as do you, and by locking the door you're not in any way preventing the landlord from accessing his/her property.

And since the landlord does not appear to give a damn, there is no way he or she will ever know.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:36 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: I hate being hassled, so I'm probably not the person to ask. I'd ask one final time, with a commitment to a timeframe. If the landlord blew it off, I would just install a lock, meet the landlord in person and hand over the key. I would also ask if I could deduct it from the rent. I would also be prepared to just eat the cost so that it's done.
posted by cnc at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2012

Oh, above the fold, Portland. Try this:

"(L) Working locks for all dwelling entrance doors, and, unless contrary to applicable law, latches for all windows, by which access may be had to that portion of the premises that the tenant is entitled under the rental agreement to occupy to the exclusion of others and keys for those locks that require keys."
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:38 PM on June 21, 2012

Can you explain what you mean by "slide lock"? If there's one on each side, I don't understand why you can't keep your side locked...

I've installed locks on indoor doors in a rented apartment before. In my experience, the kinds of landlords who have places where you feel the need to install a lock on the inside door do not notice when you install a lock on an inside door.

What about installing a chain, or a slide latch? Then you don't have to worry about getting the key to the landlord.
posted by mskyle at 4:38 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: mskyle: By slide latch I mean something like this, except made of brass and tiny. I thought it was locked, but apparently not. In any case it's too small to be of any use.

cnc: Oh I forgot to mention, I told them "before tenants move in downstairs", which will probably be within a month. I'm fully prepared to eat the cost, I just don't want some kind of security-deposit-related retaliation when we move out.
posted by zrail at 4:43 PM on June 21, 2012

If I were you I'd just buy and install a better latch and be done with it (the locking barrel bolt kind, maybe, so that you can tell it's locked? Maybe a spring-loaded one?). Chances are the landlord will never notice you've done it. Sounds like either the existing bolt isn't suited to the purpose or it's installed incorrectly.
posted by mskyle at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about something like this security bar? It would not damage the door and it would effectively bar someone from opening it from the outside. I rent and dealing with landlords sometimes is more annoying that solving the problem yourself.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 4:59 PM on June 21, 2012

Go ahead and install (or have a pro handyman install) a deadbolt as soon as possible --- as you say, you've already asked the landlord a couple times, asking again isn't likely to get him off his rear on this, and you absolutely want to have it in BEFORE new tenants move in. In fact, I'd say you even want it in before PROSPECTIVE tenants come to look at the place!
posted by easily confused at 5:23 PM on June 21, 2012

i would be clear to your landlord that he can be held liable for any thefts/physical attacks made on you if someone broke in, if he doesn't provide an adequate lock. a nice letter from your lawyer explaining that would be enough to counteract any sort of security deposit stunt he may pull.
posted by camdan at 5:34 PM on June 22, 2012

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