Landlords' rights to access a property for inspection
As a landlord, you may need to access a property you are renting out from time to time. It is, of course, your property that you own and therefore have rights to, but when you have tenants living in it, there are some caveats to when you can access it. This guide breaks down the different rights that tenants and landlords have under the current legislation in place.
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Why would a landlord require access to a property?
There are some legitimate reasons that, as a landlord, you may need to access the property. These include:
To conduct an inventory at the start and end of a tenancy
When tenants move in, you may have a list of furniture items or a ‘condition’ of property report. When the tenancy ends you will need to make sure that all furniture that needs to be in the property is present, or in the same condition you provided it.
To conduct repairs or maintenance
It is a landlord’s responsibility to makes sure the property is safe to live in. Access to fix items or repair broken or damaged areas/items is a common reason for a landlord to enter the property. Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is responsible to:
- “Keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes.
- Keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, 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.
- Keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water.”
In this way, a landlord may also need to authorise a third party to access the property in order to perform repair and maintenance work.
Arrange viewings of the property
At the beginning of a new tenancy, or the end of one, landlords will need to show prospective tenants around the property. For this they will require access to the property and for it to be in a clean and tidy condition.
Annual gas safety check
A landlord gas safety check is a legal requirement and must be done annually. All gas appliances and fittings within the property must be checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The engineer will require access to the property to conduct the check.
In cases of emergency
These are usually rare occurrences, but an emergency means a landlord doesn’t require the permission of tenants to enter the property. Emergencies that put the safety of tenants at risk or create safety risks include:
- A fire in the property
- The smell of gas
- Structural damage that needs immediate action
- Suspicion of a crime at the property
What rights do tenants have around access?
Tenants have the right to live in a property undisturbed. It is, after all, their home. Within UK law this is called ‘the covenant for quiet enjoyment’, which means they are entitled to live in the property without unnecessary disturbance from a landlord, a letting agent, or any third party acting on either’s behalf.
A landlord must give a tenant at least 24-hours’ notice (in writing) before they visit the property for any reason. This is outlined within section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act. As well as the notice, the visits must happen at a reasonable time, meaning a landlord cannot expect to gain access for repairs at 2am on a Wednesday morning.
As a tenant, you must make sure that your tenancy agreement has made it clear the conditions under which you landlord would need to access the property. You should also be clear on how to contact them and discuss access.
What rights do landlords have around access?
As explained, a landlord has numerous, legitimate reasons to access a property they are renting out. For most cases (except in emergency), as long as they provide at least 24-hours’ written notice and the tenant is aware of the need for access, it’s a smooth process.
Can a landlord take other people into the property with them?
If it’s necessary to bring someone else into the property a landlord can bring them with them, or give them access to visit on their own. This applies to people such as:
- Letting agents
- Professionals carrying out agreed repairs or improvements
- New prospective tenants if a current tenant is moving out
When showing prospective tenants around the property the same rules apply, but a landlord is only entitled to do this within the last 28 days of the current tenant’s tenancy.
Can a tenant refuse a landlord entry?
If a landlord doesn’t follow the protocol for letting a tenant know they are going to be accessing the property, a tenant can refuse access. However, this is a rare occurrence. It’s important that landlord’s follow the proper procedures for accessing the property and respect their tenant’s rights to help maintain a positive relationship.
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