As a landlord, it can sometimes be tempting to walk straight into your rental property. This urge can be even greater if you are one of the many accidental landlords who has previously lived in the property they let out. Unfortunately, if your tenant denies you access to your property, that is their legal right.
This can be incredibly frustrating to landlords, however, it’s important you understand your tenants have the Right to Quiet Enjoyment. This right means tenants are legally entitled to live within a property without their landlords - or anyone representing the landlord - interfering in the way they live in their home.
As a landlord, you’ve got to come to terms with your changed relationship with your own property. Although you are the owner of the property you can’t treat it as though you 'own' the property once a tenancy has been agreed.
In addition to the Right to Quiet Enjoyment, The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 also has provisions which protect tenants from harassment from landlords - as well as protection from instant eviction. It’s important to have a good understanding of the legislation associated with letting out residential properties if you want to make the right decisions.
Some landlords work on a basis of precedent. If they’ve been allowed in by a tenant at a certain time, or with a certain set of criteria, they think they will probably be ok doing the same in the future. But it’s not really worth the risk.
You should always give your tenant 24 hours notice. But wherever possible, you should give your tenants much longer notice before you enter their homes. This lets them work your visit around their calendar. And, if you turn up the next day don’t expect the property to be tidy!
If you do need to gain access to your property at short notice then you should keep up high levels of communication with your tenants and ensure they understand why you need access so quickly. If you work with a property management service, make sure that they do the same and are treating your tenants as you’d like to be treated.
In addition to maintenance, inspections and viewings, there are a number of legal reasons you could need to gain access to your rental property. For example, you will need access for gas safety checks and energy efficiency checks. But if the tenant is denying access to the property this could leave you in a difficult position. For example, this could invalidate landlord insurance and the conditions of your buy-to-let mortgage.
If you do find yourself in a position where the tenant won’t allow you to gain access to the property and you need to carry out the necessary checks, you should politely explain to your tenant that it’s a legal requirement and ultimately that it’s for their own safety.
If your tenants are still denying access, the next step is to speak with your local authority. Local authorities have the power to serve an order on your tenant to allow access to the property.
Of course, if you want to get access to your property because you want to inspect it, or show other prospective tenants around you could be in more difficult position. Whilst your tenancy agreement will likely contain clauses that give you permission of entry if these are ignored it will amount to a breach of contract, but this will unlikely help you gain access quickly. The best thing to do is to keep a copy of all communications between yourself and tenant. Try to use email wherever possible as these create a simple paper trail.
As with most things in life, keeping high levels of communications with your tenants will help to resolve issues before they become insurmountable. If you need to gain access, be sure to give plenty of notice, work around the tenant’s schedule, explain why you need access and what, if any, benefits there are to the tenant, be respectful to them and their home, and make sure you’ve got permission in writing so no legal disagreements can develop about access during the tenancy.
Because juggling everyday life, work and a property can be tough, our approachable and knowledgeable property management team are on hand to deal with any tricky situation. To get started, sign up for a property management service today.
To get started, sign up for our property management service today.