What happens if a tenant gets trapped inside a unit, along with the cable television repair guy, and neither one of them can get out? That is the question this week for veteran real estate investor, landlord and property manager Hank Rossi about one of his own units.

Dear Landlord Hank:

“I’m trapped inside my condo and can’t get out.”

From Landlord Hank:

When the tenant called she said, “I’m trapped inside my condo and can’t get out.”

I didn’t understand this.

As I think back to her fourth-floor unit, it is a front door luxury mid-rise building with a metal door that opens outward, with a dead bolt and lever handle passage.

Apparently the deadbolt worked fine but the lever handle, when you either raise or lower the handle, was not engaging the latch assembly and moving it back into the door.

It was stuck in the strike plate.

No second door out of the unit

This would not have been too big a deal if there was another way to get in or out of this unit.

There is another exit, a sliding glass door to her fourth-floor balcony, but that doesn’t lead anywhere, and all the windows in the unit open to the outside of the building. And, there is no walkway or anything beneath the windows except the pavement four floors below.

This is a single woman who lives alone.

When I arrive at the property, a man’s voice comes through the space where the dead bolt had been. He took that apart for some reason.

Come to find out, the Comcast tech was trapped inside too.

Should we kick down the door?

There are hinges on the outside of the door but they are heavy duty and secure so there was no way to remove them.

I called my locksmith.

He said for the Comcast guy to kick down the door.

Or, call the Fire Department.

Either way, we’re going to sustain heavy damage to the door or frame from either of those options.

My last thought was to try the old credit card trick.

By sliding the credit card to the latch assembly, and pushing, the latch retracted into the door and we were able to open it.

A new door handle will take care of this so drama now over.

Door locks and handles are so reliable we don’t think of them often. Florida is a tough environment for metal. So, it helps to lubricate locks, on occasion.

You can use WD-40, or other lubricants but stay away from powdered graphite. That will make things worse.


Hank Rossi

Other recent Dear Landlord Hank posts you may have missed:
Is it A Red Flag If Prospective Tenant Wants To Pay Rent With A Money Order Only?

If A Good Tenant Loses A Job How Long Before You Evict Them?

How Do You Raise Rent For A Long-Time Tenant?

How Do You Know When To Change Property Managers?

Where Do You Draw The Line On Normal Wear And Tear?

Dear Landlord Hank: Do You Conduct Rental Inspections? How Often?

Dear Landlord Hank: How Do I Motivate My Tenants To Conserve Water?

Is An Old Drug Conviction A Big Deal?

Dear Landlord Hank: Should I Give A Tenant More Time To Pay?

Dear Landlord Hank: Tenant’s Sewer Line Clogged With Tree Roots

Photo credit mirsad sarajlic via istockphoto.com

Tenant screening

Landlord Hank at work on one of his properties.