Landlord Inspection Rights in 2020
Most Tenancy Agreements these days contain a term which states that the landlord should ‘allow tenants quiet, uninterrupted use and occupation of the property.’ You might also see this referenced as a ‘covenant to quiet enjoyment.’
Even if your Tenancy Agreement doesn’t state this, it is implied. In other words, in law your tenant is perfect entitled to his or her ‘space.’
How Much Notice Should a Landlord Give for an Inspection?
As a landlord though, you do have the right to inspect your own property – provided you give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice and the reason you are doing so is to see if any repairs or maintenance is required. This ‘right’ is outlined in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Seeing to repairs is also a prime landlord responsibility so it is implied in law – regardless of whether or not there is such as clause in the Tenancy Agreement.
Entering During ‘Reasonable Hours’
Even though you have given 24 hours’ notice of your intention to enter the property you can’t just turn up and go right ahead. You need to visit during ‘reasonable hours’ for your tenants (they may work nights, for instance, so first thing in the morning wouldn’t be ideal).
Entering in an Emergency
As the landlord and owner of the property it’s acceptable to enter without giving notice to your tenants if it’s an emergency situation. This could, for instance, be in the event of fire, flooding, gas leak or any risk to life. If you are nervous about doing so then getting an injunction would make your unannounced entry legal. This is also the case if your tenant refuses you access; you can then bill them for the cost of the court action.
How to Notify Your Tenants
If the tenant agrees, then notification by email or even text is usually fine. As a landlord you should also get the tenant to sign a piece of paper saying they were fine with you entering the property, and at what time of day.
Keep on Good Terms With Your Tenant
Enjoy a good relationship with your tenant by being respectful of their privacy ie always give them 24 hours written notice at least of your intention to visit. And do so at what time suits them best.
When you get there, don’t let yourself in with your key but rather ring the bell and wait for them to answer. That’s because you have handed over the flat to your tenant (albeit temporarily) so it is now effectively their home – rather than your property.
Try to Arrange a Convenient Date
If your tenant can’t come up with a date for you to gain entry to make repairs then understandably you may be worried. These could take two forms. The first being the potential damage caused to your flat by eg a leak. The second could be worrying that your tenant may threaten to take you to court because you haven’t yet fixed the repair.
In this instance make sure you keep written (or text) evidence of your asking to gain access. Try and bend over backwards to suit the tenant so that you can get the repairs done and ‘move on.’ If you still can’t gain access then this is when an injunction could be the answer. The written evidence you kept is your defence that you have been attempting entry – and notifying your tenant – for some time.
If you are unsure of entering either with or without an injunction then your best answer is to consult legal advice from someone who specialises in property.
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