You are paying rent to the landlord for exclusive use as the property as your home and as such you have the right to decide who enters it and when.
When you rent a property from a landlord it becomes your home. They should only enter the property without you being present, if you have given permission for them to do so, or in a genuine emergency. While your landlord or letting agent will need to gain access to the property to carry out inspections, repairs and maintenance, the law says that they must give you 24-hours' written notice.
If you’re new to renting, and aren’t sure about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, read on for our complete guide to landlord access in rented properties.
As a tenant, signing an assured shorthold tenancy agreement gives you the right to ‘quiet enjoyment of your property’. You are paying rent to the landlord for exclusive use as the property as your home and as such you have the right to decide who enters it and when. If a landlord enters your home without permission they are, technically, trespassing, unless they have a court order to allow them otherwise.
Landlords’ right of access
That said, landlords or letting agents do have a right to enter the property to fulfil their legal responsibilities. The Landlord And Tenant Act 1985
allows your landlord access to inspect the property, as long as they have given you at least 24 hours’ notice and that the proposed visit is at a reasonable time.
The landlord should give you notice in writing, stating who will enter the property and why. You are under no obligation to agree to the visit. However, bear in mind that it might be in your best interest to be accommodating – to allow your landlord to maintain the property ensuring it is safe and comfortable to live in – and for the sake of your on-going relationship.
Why your landlord may want access
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why your landlord may wish to visit your property:
For a regular inspection – your landlord has a right to inspect the property at reasonable intervals to check for damage or any issues which may deteriorate into an expensive repair.
For repairs and maintenance – the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the property, if you report a problem or an inspection brings one to light.
To carry out an annual gas safety check – this is a legal requirement for your landlord.
To conduct viewings near the end of the tenancy – if you’ve given notice to leave, your landlord will need to find a new tenant so asking to show people round is a reasonable request.
In an emergency
In a genuine emergency, your landlord will require immediate access to your home. In these circumstances they won’t need the tenant’s permission to access the property. Emergencies mean rare occasions involving fire, flood, a smell of gas, dangerous structural damage or the suspicion that a violent or criminal act has taken place.
Changing the locks
Your right of exclusivity means that, in law, you may change the locks to your rental property. You don’t need to give a set of keys to your landlord, unless it is stated in your tenancy agreement that you must.
Consider whether it might make life easier if you give your landlord a set of keys; in case of an emergency; if you lock yourself out, or if you agree to inspections and repairs while you are out.
Tenant refusing entry
If your landlord makes a written request to enter the property, you can refuse if it isn’t convenient, but try to make an alternative suggestion and come to an agreement. Persistently refusing entry could make you seem unhelpful and make the landlord less amenable if you need them to fit around you.
Work or other commitments may make the 24-hour notice period difficult for you. If you don’t want your landlord to enter the property when you’re out, suggest a longer notice period that will make things easier, or let them know any regular times that work for you.
The majority of landlords are fair and reasonable to deal with. A landlord who is visiting too frequently or at unsocial hours or entering the property when you’re out, without permission may be acting illegally, particularly if their actions make you feel under pressure. Harassing tenants is an offence under the Housing Act 1988. If you feel this is happening to you, seek legal advice or contact Citizens Advice.
If you’re looking to rent property in central London, we have a great selection of well-managed properties and can advise you about your rights as a tenant. Contact us
today to find out more.