A common query for any landlord is their right to access their property once it has been let – especially as you are legally obliged to maintain the buildings and provide a decent standard of accommodation. The tenant has the right to live there free from ‘excessive demands’ for access, so respecting their privacy and trying to accommodate their schedule will help keep things amicable and legal.
This brief overview aims to clarify your landlord rights.
Give 24-hours’ notice
- Any visit to a tenanted property requires a minimum of 24 hours’ notice, in writing, under the Housing Act 1988.
- The Act also states that any visits must take place at ‘reasonable’ times of day so the tenant can be present or arrange for a third party to be there, if they wish.
- Notice can be in the form of a letter or email, but not SMS text. Backing up a letter with an email is also good practice.
- Routine checks also require written notice, even when scheduled within a tenancy agreement.
- Exceptions to this are where a contract clause exists for the landlord to provide a room-cleaning service or, in the event of an emergency, you can access the property to carry out repairs immediately.
What if the tenant prevents access?
- Try to rearrange the appointment, if, after the required 24 hours’ written notice, the tenant objects or says the proposed time is not convenient.
- If they still refuse access, cancel the visit, but to write to them indicating the possible implications, such as liability being placed on them for any repairs that you are unable to carry out as a result.
What about access at the end of the tenancy?
- Property inspections and viewings by prospective new tenants may be conducted after notice has been served by either party – only within the last 28 days of the agreement and still with the minimum 24 hours’ prior written notice.
A final consideration…
Once your tenant is in place and you have established a relationship, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can become more informal. Always follow the legislation to prevent any misunderstandings with your tenant and potential liability for prosecution.
If you have any doubts about your rights please seek the advice of a lettings professional. Contact your local Your Move branch. As a founder member of the Property Ombudsman and voluntary member of the Association of Residential Lettings we have the latest regulatory information at our fingertips.