The misunderstanding over when a landlord can inspect or view a property is one of the main causes of tension between landlords and tenants. Coodes Solicitors Partner and Commercial Property lawyer Helen Willett outlines the legal position.
Let’s be clear, other than in emergency it’s illegal for a landlord or agent to enter a property without agreement from the tenant. The golden rule to abide by is always to provide your tenants 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.
Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that, as a landlord, there will be times when you want or need to visit a property that you own. In accordance with the law, you’re required to give 24 hours’ notice before you visit, or else your tenants are within their rights to refuse you entry.
When can a landlord enter a property?
As a landlord, you have three primary rights of entry. Firstly, to carry out repairs. If it’s an emergency, you’re entitled to immediately enter the property to carry out any necessary work. Secondly, you have the right to inspect the state of repair of the property or empty a fuel slot meter, though in these cases 24 hours’ notice must be provided. Thirdly, you can enter if your contract stipulates that you’ll provide a room-cleaning service.
How much notice does a landlord have to give?
According to the Housing Act 1988, you’re obliged to provide your tenants with at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property, other than in an emergency, such as a fire, the smell of gas of suspicion of a violent incident.
Can a landlord visit at any time?
Your tenancy agreement should state that visits must only be made at ‘reasonable’ times of day. This is to ensure that your tenant can be there if they want to be, has a chance to tidy up before you visit and is able to arrange to have a witness present.
Provided that both you and your tenants understand your positions, disputes can often be avoided and tensions quashed before they arise. Take the time to read up on the rights of both yourself and your tenant, and make sure that you abide by them and are respectful of the person who’s paying money into your bank account each month. Always bear in mind that you’re asking to enter someone’s home, irrespective of who owns the deeds to the property. In this way, with respect, politeness and fairness, you can foster a good relationship with your tenant – an arrangement that’ll be beneficial for both of you.
For advice on this issue or other Commercial Property enquiries, contact Helen Willett on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0800 328 3282