When Can a Landlord Enter a Tenant’s Property?
It goes without saying that to be an effective landlord access to your rental property will be needed from time to time. Regardless of if the landlord is preparing the rental for its next wave of property viewings, carrying out an inspection at the end of the fixed term or conducting repairs, despite common assumption, they are not able to enter their rental at any time and must respect the tenant’s possession of the property.
Tenants Right to Quiet Enjoyment of the Property
Once the tenant and the landlord have signed the tenancy agreement and the move in day is established, the new occupants are entitled to maintain “quiet enjoyment” of their new home. Whilst there is occasionally a slight misunderstanding with first time renters that may interpret this right too literally, assuming it to mean they will be able to have a rental experience free from noise complaints and anti-social behaviour from neighbouring properties. However, simply put the right to “quiet enjoyment” of a rental property allows tenants to live in their new home without having to deal with constant interruption, interference or unnecessary dealings from their landlord throughout the duration of the fixed term of the rental agreement. This was established by a court ruling, with Lord denning elaborating that the action causing the breach of the tenants right to “quiet enjoyment”, to be considered a violation must, “substantially interferes with the tenant’s freedom of action in exercising his rights as a tenant.”
With this in mind, the occupants of the property must have their right to live and use the rental undisturbed upheld by the landlord. If the owner of the rental property were to carry out an unnecessary amount of property inspections, demanding to assess the condition of the rental each month, then not only would this circumstance be deemed a violation of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property, but could also be considered as harassment of the tenants leading to severe consequences for the landlord.
It is also worth noting that this right cannot be overruled through a bespoke term in the tenancy agreement as the courts have bound this into each tenancy agreement, therefore upholding this covenant for renters across the UK.
Essentially, the occupants of the rental that hold the right to quiet enjoyment are able to dictate who is able to enter the property, including the landlord, letting agent and their representatives or workmen.
Can I Refuse Entry to My Landlord?
The right to quiet enjoyment that is enjoyed by all residents of rental properties also empowers tenants to exclude parties from the grounds of the rental. To this end, whilst you could be forgiven for thinking that a landlord could enter their rental property at almost any time, after all they are paying the mortgage and did establish all aspects the buy to let offers its occupants; however this is not the case.
With this being said the reasoning behind a tenant refusing to allow their landlord to enter the rental property is often not as sinister or malicious as one may think. Typically access is not permitted because the landlord and the tenant are on different schedules and a more suitable; mutually convenient time needs to be arranged for the visit.
However, if a landlord is faced with a tenant that is continually preventing them from gaining access to their rental property it can be easy to start to feel a bit lost as to where to turn next. In these instances it is essential that the owner of the rental property tries to open a dialogue with the tenants and gain access at a later date. Any communication with the occupants of the property should be carried out through a written format so the attempts at communicating with the tenants can be produced at a later date if needed. It is essential that when the landlord is trying to gain access to the property that they take the chance to explain to the tenants that if they continue to prevent the landlord from conducting their duties then they will be absolved of any responsibility for the maintenance of the property. To this end the landlord is also relieve of their duty of care and responsibility to ensure the occupant’s safety.
Just as a landlord cannot be held accountable for any essential remedial work that needs to be conducted if they have not been informed by the tenants, they also cannot be held responsible for this work if the tenant is preventing them from conducting any needed repairs. It is also worth mentioning that the costs associated with addressing the deterioration of the property will likely be deducted from any amount the tenant would be set to receive through the return of their tenancy deposit.
If after this the tenant is still proving to be reluctant about letting the landlord into the rental property, the owner could pursue legal action against the tenant. This would come in the form of an eviction notice, removing the tenant form the grounds of the rental property and allowing the landlord to reclaim possession.
When Can a Landlord Enter a Property?
As mentioned, the occupants of the rental property can ultimately dictate who is able to enter a rental property; however, this does not dismiss the landlord’s obligations and right of entry providing that they have issued the correct notice. This legal duty is detailed within section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 clarifies, “In a lease in which the lessors repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.”
As stated by the act, if the landlord wished to enter the rental property when it is currently in an occupied state they will have to provide the tenants with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before entering. If a landlord neglects to provide their tenants with a notice that they intend to enter the rental property then the tenants are within their rights to reject the visit.
When the landlord is requesting permission from the occupants to enter the property it is essential that they not only provide notice and have this accepted at least 24 hours before they do so, but that the call takes place during a reasonable time in the day and is able to accommodate the tenant’s lifestyle, whilst also respecting their right to quiet enjoyment of the property.
There are a number of reasons as to why a landlord would intend to serve you with a notice of entry, but these will typically take place at expected times throughout the tenancy as tenant will more than likely be informing the landlord of any needed repairs throughout the property before they are attended to. Additionally, viewings of the property will take place towards the end of the tenancies fixed term. There will also be periodic inspections of the rental property performed by the landlord or letting agent in order to stay on top of any remedial work throughout the property.
Landlords do not need the permission of their tenant to enter the rental property in the case of emergencies. Naturally they will want to take every measure to safeguard the tenants and their property and will need to gain access to the rental.
Can a Tenant Change the Locks?
Unfortunately a clear cut answer can’t be provided as this will depend on the individual terms comprising your tenancy agreement. Whilst it is easy to see how this may not be considered a significant act, the reality is that in many cases this could be considered a breach of the tenancy agreement. Typically a clause in the rental document will detail that tenants are prevented from making substantial changes to the property without first gaining the permission of the landlord.
If a tenant is found that have changed the locks in the rental accommodation without the consent of the property owner they must be able to justify their actions. It goes without saying that whilst this could be seen as a security measure, there are many instances where the landlord will need to enter the property and will be prevented from doing so if tenants have failed to supply them with a key, or that they are unaware the locks have changed. In these instances where a landlord is unable to conduct routine property inspections, carry out property viewings or essential remedial work because the locks have been changed, it is not uncommon for eviction proceedings to commence against the tenant in an effort to reclaim possession of the rental.
With this being said there are certain circumstances under which the residents of a property are able to change the locks and would be justified in doing so. If an occupant of the rental property feels endangered, threatened or unsafe they are able to change the locks to make the property more secure. If there has recently been a burglary and the letting agent or landlord has been too slow to take the appropriate action, the tenants are able to take it upon themselves to update the locks throughout the property. Additionally, if the landlord continuously shows disregard for the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property then they are further enable to change the locks. Similarly, whilst highly uncommon, if the landlord and tenant have had a dispute, or their relationship has deteriorated and the tenant’s feel the landlord is beginning to harass them, them are able to take appropriate steps to ensure their safety including changing the locks to the rental property.
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