Honourable and personal residential letting experts

17Apr

Landlords – your rights of entry

In today’s blog full of landlord top tips, we shall be:

  • covering what are your rights to inspect and visit your property
  • looking at the law regarding visits to the property with a tenant in situ
  • discussing what happens if you fail to follow the law

As a landlord you are providing a home and therefore your ‘rights’ to visit the property can seem in conflict with your residents’ ‘rights’ to live in the property. This conflict could cause an issue and effect the relationship between you and your resident. It is  therefore really important that you understand what the law says to make sure that you do not fall into a legal trap.

Image of an open door with a a silver key in the lock. A house shaped keyring is attached.

Landlord obligations and liability

It’s very important that, as a landlord, you understand what rights you do and don’t possess with regards to entering the property. If you fail to abide by these, you run a very real risk of being prosecuted for harassment under the Housing Act 1988.

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that, as a landlord, there will be times when you want or need to visit the property. However, it’s important for you to realise that these visits can’t simply be made whenever you feel that they’re appropriate. In accordance with the law, you’re required to give 24 hours’ notice before you visit, or else your residents are within their rights to refuse you entry.

In short landlords have three primary rights of entry:

The right of reasonable access

The definition of which will be dependent upon why you need to gain entry.

For example, in an emergency, you’ll be entitled to immediately enter the property to carry out necessary work.

 

The right to enter to inspect the state of repair of the property/empty a fuel slot meter

However, this does not grant you an immediate right of entry. In this case, 24 hours’ notice must be provided prior to entering your tenant’s home.

 

The right to enter in order to provide room cleaning services

This is dependent on the initial contract set up between you and your tenant. In this scenario, you don’t need to obtain permission before entering the property.

In every other circumstance, you don’t have a right of entry unless you have a court order stating otherwise.

As a landlord, when can I visit?

As standard, your tenancy agreement will also state that visits must only be made at ‘reasonable’ times of day. This is in place to ensure that your tenant has the option to be there if they want to be.

Abiding by these benefits both parties, and failure to do so could be highly damaging to the relationship between you both.

Can I take other people into the property?

If your resident has given notice that they want to end the tenancy and move out, you have the right to both conduct visits and show the property to prospective new residents. However, this only comes into effect during the last 28 days of a standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

Are there any exceptions to the 24 hour rule?   

It is very rare but in the case of an emergency you are able to access the property. This will only come into force when there’s a threat to safety. Examples of such a threat include:

  • A fire in the property
  • The smell of gas
  • Structural damage that urgently needs attention
  • The suspicion of a violent or criminal incident

Red corded telephone

My resident and I get along – is all this formality necessary? 

In most instances, where the relationship between landlord and residents is cordial, visits will generally be arranged without a formal written notice – via a quick conversation on the phone, for example. This is usually the same for any visits from tradesmen that you arrange, including those where you won’t be present.

However, where this is the case, any visits you or your representatives make may legally be rebuffed, and your tenant is entitled to bar you from entering.

Let’s look at the law again

As per the Housing act 1988, your residents have the right to live in the property ‘without unreasonable interruption from the landlord’.

And this is where some people trip up.

What happens if I don’t abide by my landlord responsibilities? 

Although most landlord visits present no problems, as they’re infrequent and polite, if you’re persistent you can be charged, fined, and ordered by the court to stay away from your property. In very rare and extreme cases, you may also find that the police are notified.

Take out

To clarify, always be aware that it’s, in fact, illegal for a landlord or agent to enter a property without agreement from the resident. The golden rule to abide by is always to provide your residents with written notice at least 24 hours before any planned visits.

Try to always be flexible about the time and visit when it suits your tenant. Do not visit more than is necessary and, when you do, always ring the bell or knock on the door politely, waiting to be invited in – you should never just let yourself in without permission, unless there’s an emergency.

Take the time to read up on the rights of both you and your tenant, and make sure that you abide by them and are respectful of the person who’s paying money to live in the property.  We run regular compliance webinars to help landlords understand the law. If you are interested in joining our next one in May, click here to find out more.