A guide to landlord right of entry
Landlords right of entry can be a tricky subject to navigate but there’s various legislation such as the Housing Act 1988 which ensures both landlords and tenants rights are respected. Here’s a detailed look at what landlords are legally allowed to do and what tenants should comply with when it comes to accessing a rented home.
- Can tenants refuse landlord right of entry?
- Can tenants change the locks?
- What other tenants rights are there?
- What are landlords and letting agents rights of entry?
- For what reasons can landlords gain right of entry?
- Can landlords gain entry to property without 24 hours’ notice?
- What happens if tenants refuse access?
Can tenants refuse landlord right of entry?
As a tenant, you have the right to the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of your home. In other words, your landlord can’t simply turn up unannounced and demand to come in. Crucially, this also extends to your landlords representative, for example, a letting agent.
Landlords are allowed reasonable right of entry to rented properties but under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, they must give you 24 hours’ notice in writing. In fact, the only time your landlord (or their representative) can enter your home without notice, is in an emergency. In all other instances, they must give you at least 24 hours’ notice and should agree to visit at a reasonable time that suits you.
In most instances, giving your landlord right of entry is likely to benefit you, for example if it’s for safety checks or providing a service like cleaning or gardening. But while that may be the case, you aren’t under any obligation to give them permission to enter. Although you should bear in mind that if you don’t allow access and your landlord can’t carry out repairs, you can’t then blame them for not doing so.
Can tenants change the locks?
Yes, if you move into a property, you have the right to change the locks. Whether you need to give your landlord a set of new keys will depend on what your tenancy agreement sets out.
You can of course choose not to provide your landlord with copies, but this could be viewed as antagonistic and could potentially damage goodwill from your landlord.
What other tenants rights are there?
While your landlord might own the property, by signing the tenancy agreement, they’re giving you the right to live there. Fundamentally, it’s your home and you have the right to:
- Live in the property undisturbed.
- Live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair.
- Challenge excessive charges and be protected from unfair eviction.
- Have your deposit returned when your tenancy ends.
You also have the right to know who your landlord is, which could be useful if you otherwise deal with a lettings agent.
Do I have responsibilities as a tenant?
In short, yes. Your landlord can expect you to take good care of the property and pay your rent on time – even if repairs are needed. It’s also up to you to pay for bills including utilities and Council Tax in line with what’s set out in your tenancy agreement.
Don’t forget, if you have friends or family visiting, it’s also your responsibility to pay for any damage they may accidentally cause.
What are landlords and letting agents rights of entry?
If you’re a landlord, you and your representative (such as a letting agent) have the right to access the rental property. By law, you must give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, in writing.
There’s nothing in the act that specifies how that written notice should be given so it could be an email or even a text message. Whatever way you request access, you also need to ensure any visit is carried out at a reasonable time taking into account your tenants’ circumstances (for example if they work shifts). You should also let your tenant know who will be carrying out the visit – whether that’s you, a letting agent or a tradesperson.
For what reasons can landlords gain right of entry?
As a landlord, you can’t request access simply to have a look around, you’ll need to have a legitimate reason, for example:
- Inventory checks – usually done at the start and towards the end of the tenancy agreement. Your tenant can also ask for a copy of the property inventory and if they want, they can also be present when checks are carried out.
- Property inspections – you’re allowed to carry out house inspections throughout the tenancy, but they’ll need to be scheduled and you’ll have to follow the usual rules about access (24 hours’ notice in writing).
- Repairs, maintenance and safety checks – it’s up to you to make sure the property is in a good state of repair. Carrying out an annual gas safety check is also one of your key landlord responsibilities. As such, you can expect your tenant to give you reasonable access to do this.
- Property viewings – as tenancy agreements come to an end, it’s reasonable to request access so you can show potential new tenants around the property.
Can landlords gain entry to property without 24 hours’ notice?
You can only enter property without notice in an emergency, this includes:
- Gas leak (or if gas can be smelt)
- Structural damage that poses a risk to others
- Suspicion of criminal activities.
What happens if tenants refuse access?
If your tenants simply refuse to cooperate and won’t give you access, you can ask the courts to step in and arrange an injunction to gain entry. You can also claim back costs from tenants in relation to their refusal.
If this isn’t successful or you want to take a more decisive approach, you could also consider eviction. You can evict tenants in one of two ways:
Section 21 eviction notice
Currently, you can still serve a Section 21 eviction notice despite previous government announcements that it would be scrapped.
A Section 21 notice is simply a formal way of asking your tenants to leave the property at the end of their tenancy (not before). It’s also known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction.
If tenants don’t leave at the end of the agreed period, the notice will act as the first step in the eviction process.
Section 8 eviction notice
If you want to evict tenants before the end of their tenancy agreement, you can do so with a Section 8 eviction notice but you’ll have to choose a reason from those listed in the document.
There are 17 reasons in total, divided into mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds. Technically, there isn’t a reason that specifies the non-granting of access, however, one reason set out for eviction is if ‘any obligation of the tenancy has been broken, other than payment of rent.’ In this instance, you could argue that your tenant has broken obligations by refusing you reasonable access.
Managing your rights and responsibilities
Laws are in place to protect both landlords and tenants but it’s mutually beneficial for both to try and find common ground to ensure tenancies run smoothly.
For tenants, that means carrying out their responsibilities which includes giving landlords reasonable access. For landlords, it means respecting tenants rights to enjoy their home without harassment.
Nevertheless, events don’t always go to plan, but that’s where we can help. At Alan Boswell, we provide award winning landlord insurance that can mitigate your financial losses. To find out more about what we offer, head to our landlord insurance hub or call a member of the team direct on 01603 216399.