At this time of year, we often receive calls from landlords or their agents about problems they are facing in gaining access to rental properties.
Legally, when a landlord lets a property he gives the tenant exclusive possession of that property subject to any rights of entry provided for in the tenancy agreement or by statute. Entry without the tenant’s permission or unless it is a genuine emergency, is a trespass and the tenant could take action to claim damages or an injunction to prevent entry by the landlord or their agent.
Access is therefore only permitted in one of two ways, either by a provision in the tenancy agreement or where the law grants a right of access, such as in the case of an emergency or to inspect for the need to carry out or to actually carry out repairs. Our previous blog on a landlord’s repairing obligations can be read here.
Unless it is an emergency, landlords should always give tenants notice of their or their agents intention to access the rental property. The amount of notice landlords have to give may be set out in the tenancy agreement but where it is not, landlords can rely on s11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which allows access for repairs as long as the landlords has given 24 hours’ notice prior to entering a rented property.
Landlords and agents should always seek to give notice for access except in the most unusual circumstances. If the tenant will not provide access on the giving of notice then the landlord is in a difficult position. The only option is to press for access or to seek an injunction in the court to force access but, this can be expensive.