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Know your rights: Landlord access

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Attitudes to renting have changed. Almost 20% of the UK population now live in privately rented accommodation – a rise of 10% in just 20 years. With so many people unable to afford to invest in owning a home, the trend for renting looks set to continue – and with it the potential for disputes between tenants and landlords.

Landlords’ rights to enter their properties are often the bones of contention that lead to disputes. If you are a private landlord, your concern for your property is entirely understandable. Any houses or apartments that you own are significant assets and, potentially, your main form of income.

However, tenants have legal rights which cannot be ignored. The Housing Act 1988 denies you the right to turn up unannounced and gain access to your property.

Landlord Access

 

 

Landlords’ right of access to property

Your tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of their home. Knowing your rights and acting appropriately will help you to a good relationship with your tenant while still being able to maintain your property in a good state of repair.

As a private landlord, there will be times when you want or need to gain access to a property that you own. But remember that your tenant has the exclusive right to the property and the ability to exclude others, including you. As a result, you are required to give 24-hours-notice to enter a rental property. If you don’t, your tenant is within their legal right to refuse you entry.

Can you inspect your property?

If you wish to inspect your property to assess its condition, you have the right to do so – as long as there is a good reason for requiring entry. As you have repair obligations, that good reason could be that you suspect there is an issue which needs attention. Merely wanting to inspect the property is not a sufficient reason to request access.

Can you access your property to carry out repairs?

It is implied by law that the tenant should afford you access to carry out repairs, whether or not this is mentioned in the tenancy agreement.

You must give 24-hours-notice and arrange to visit at a reasonable time of day, as your tenant may wish to be present or have a witness present. It is important to remember that what constitutes a reasonable time for you may not suit your tenant. For instance, they might be working nights and sleeping in the day.

As you are obliged to keep the property in a good state of repair and to conduct annual gas safety checks, you must take reasonable measures to gain permission to enter from your tenant.

If they continue to refuse you access, or fail to respond to your communications, you may have to apply to the court for an injunction. This will give you a court order allowing you to enter the property without your tenant’s permission. You will not be granted an injunction unless you can demonstrate that you have contacted the tenant first.

What about emergencies?

In certain emergency situations you are not required to give your tenant notice, or to obtain their permission to gain entry. Emergency situations are those where there is a risk to life or the possibility of severe damage being caused to the property. Fires, the smell of gas, structural damage requiring urgent attention and flooding would be considered emergencies.

If you have a poor relationship with your tenant, or they have refused you access in the past, it might be advisable to apply to the court for an injunction to enter your property, if there is time to do this.

Can you access your property when the tenancy is coming to an end?

You may have included a viewing clause in the tenancy agreement. For instance, the agreement may stipulate that you have the right to conduct viewings in the last 28 days of a tenancy. This type of clause is not enforceable, as your tenant retains the legal right to refuse you access. However, if you have maintained a good relationship with your tenant, they may be prepared to help you out by granting you right of access to the property for viewings. You will still have to provide 24-hours-notice.

What if your property is an HMO?

The rules are slightly different for Houses of Multiple Occupations (HMOs). You have the right to enter communal areas, such as the kitchen and lounge, to complete maintenance work or repairs. But you will need to give notice to enter the bedrooms.

How should you give notice?

You must provide notice in writing, but that could mean a text message or email, if your tenant agrees to accept these forms of communication. It is vital that you maintain records, in case a dispute arises, and it is advisable to ask your tenant to sign a letter of permission.

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

If you fail to adhere to the law, you run the risk of being prosecuted for harassment under the Housing Act 1988, and you will need to seek legal advice. Breaching your tenant’s rights could result in a heavy fine.

How could Assetgrove help?

Here at Assetgrove, we understand that landlords want to safeguard their property assets. We also want to help landlords and tenants to maintain constructive and amicable relationships. That is why our Guaranteed Rent Scheme offers landlords what they are looking for: hassle-free letting.

At Assetgrove, we make property management easier, while ensuring you receive fixed monthly payments, even if your property is not tenanted. Assetgrove offers up to five years’ guaranteed rent and will manage every single aspect of the tenancy during this period – with no monthly fees or commission.

If you are concerned about the issue of landlord access to your UK property, or any other aspect of renting, contact us today.

Neil Jennings

Neil background is in marketing and business development and has over 20 years experience in the field. He runs Asset Grove and is involved in the marketing strategy for most of our campaigns.

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