Landlords right of entry is a topic that is ever green and ever hot. Every buy to let property investor gets into this dilemma at some point in his/her landlord life.
Probably is subject to a bit let down on the legalities around the limited nature of access to his/her property with private rented sector.
There simply are two sides of coin here.
Whilst a landlord can feel let down with the restrictions on right to enter into a property, tenants rights cannot be ignored.
Every tenant has the right to have the freedom to live in the property without regular disturbances and any inconvenience.
Given that situation, the best thing to do would be to equip ourselves with everything we need to know on landlords right of entry into a tenanted property.
This post exactly is aimed at that after exploring this with a greater interest at the back of trying to gain entry into a property ourselves where a tenant-in-situ has done a runner.
The Landlords Right Of Entry Scenarios
Once a property is tenanted, landlord is entitled to gain access to the property to keep up with few legal requirements.
The three key scenarios to gain such access are:
1) Gas Safety and EICR Checks
Each year landlord is responsible to get Gas safety and EICR checks done to ensure safety of tenants and the property they live in.
2) Fix Any Reported Issues Within Property
If tenant reports any issues or if there are issues identified that would make the tenanted property unsafe to live, then landlord right of entry into property stands.
3) Periodic Property Inspection
Landlords are allowed to enter the property and inspect the property at agreed and sensible intervals. As an example, every six months or as agreed in the tenancy agreement.
There are few regulations around such scenarios to be able to gain access to a tenanted property according to section 11 of Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
The first being that the landlord has to give atleast 24 hours written notice stating who will enter the property and why.
This is best done making a formal appointment with an agreed time suitable to tenant and landlord.
Landlords cannot just help themselves into the property just because a 24 hour notice has been given.
Respecting The Tenants Rights
Tenant is being handed over the property to live in once he/she signs an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
This would entitle them the legal right to “Quiet Enjoyment” of the property premises.
Such a right safeguards tenants from any potential acts from landlords that may be deemed as disturbance or even harassment by contacting tenants regularly.
Landlord or his/her representative can only enter the property with agreed permission of tenant. Violating such a right is a punishable offence.
The What-If Real Life Scenarios
For all the conflicts that we may have between the landlord right of entry and tenant rights, there are few real life what-if scenarios that frequently come into play.
1) Emergency Scenarios
There is no need for landlords to give the 24 hour notice tenants and can access the property in the event of an emergency.
Emergency situations are those where there is possibility of significant damage to the property and if property becomes unsafe to live for the tenant.
Issues related to Fire, flood, gas leaks and any structural damage to the property that makes it unsafe to live can be deemed as emergency scenarios.
2) Tenant Fails To Respond
If tenant fails to respond despite trying to arrange an appointment multiple times, then landlord can enter into the building subject to appropriate course of dealing.
This is subjective to situations and to be actioned should there be a situation where there is significant impact to property or people who live in the property.
In non-emergency scenarios if a tenant does not respond at all for few weeks/months an abandonment notice can be served as well before any action is taken.
3) Tenant Unavailable At Agreed Appointment Times
If a tenant has agreed to an appointment time for landlord to enter into the property but is unavailable then the appointment has to be rescheduled.
Landlord is not permitted to access the property without tenants further approval.
In a scenario where tenant has agreed for property to be accessed as a formal appointment and is unavailable, landlord is entitled to be compensated for the wasted time and effort and any tradesmen call out charges incurred.
A written track record of arranging the interview, and a subsequent notice of tenant failing to honour his appointment is required for any kind of compensation.
Such a notice should also make it clear that the impact to tenant due to further damage to property or living conditions are sole responsibility of the tenant and tenant will be liable to associated costs.
Landlord Right Of Entry: Frequently Asked Questions
1) When can landlord access a property?
In emergency scenarios where there is a risk of fire, flood, structural issues or issues that can cause health concerns.
With a minimum of 24 hour notice for following scenarios
- Gas and EICR or any other legal checks necessary.
- Periodic property inspection.
- Fixing any reported issues by tenant.
2) Can landlord enter into property without permission?
The default answer to this question is “No”. However, if there is an emergency situation that impacts the property or living conditions for the tenant then “Yes”.
3) Can landlord enter property to inspect?
Yes, as long as a minimum of 24 hours notice has been given to the tenant and tenant has agreed for the landlord or a representative to visit the premises.
4) Can landlord access property for viewings to let it to next tenant?
Yes, subjective to this being a clause within the assured shorthold tenancy agreement. However, tenant can deny such access at any time and is not legally bound.
The best practise is to add this as a clause to the tenancy agreement and having healthy relationship with the tenant to be able to work together.
5) What are the consequences of accessing a property without tenants permission?
It is considered illegal and trespassing if a landlord tries to access a property without permission under non-emergency scenarios. Tenant can claim compensation in such a scenario.
6) What are examples of repairs that requires notice for atleast 24 hours?
Below are the examples of issues that landlords have to ensure tenants approvals are taken before gaining access to the property.
- Exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
- Supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
- Space heating and heating water.
7) What if I use a letting agent and don’t self manage?
All rules that apply to a landlord applies to letting agents or any designated representative within the tenancy agreement.