Property access during a tenancy
During a tenancy, you or your agent may need access to a property for a variety of reasons. You may have to enter a property at some point, whether it is for a repair, legal obligation, or viewing.
It may not always be possible to access the property. The tenant has the legal right to exclude the world when you grant them a tenancy. In some circumstances, they may exercise this right and refuse to grant you access.
The landlord/agent can be sued for damages or for an injunction if they enter without the tenant’s permission unless you have the right to do so. Furthermore, repeated attempts to access the property without permission can be regarded as harassment, which is why such actions should be avoided.
The goal of this guide is to provide landlords with all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether their tenants can access their properties. In addition, it explains what to do if your tenant refuses to provide you with access.
Contractual right for Property access
Access to the property may be granted if your tenancy covers the reasons for your entry. As a result, you have a contractual right to access the property and the tenants will be given clear instructions on when they must provide access.
Additionally, you could potentially seek damages if the tenant does not comply with your reasonable access requests if they refuse access, as refusing access would be a breach of contract.
Use a professionally drafted tenancy agreement, like those from the NRLA, to ensure your tenancy is sufficiently well-drafted.
Accessing the property with permission
You should always ask the tenant’s permission before you enter a property, even if you have implied or explicit rights of access. You will always need this permission if you do not have an implied right to access the property.
It is not permissible to assume this permission. It is possible to argue whether permission was granted or not. Make sure you fully understand why you need access to the property if you are relying on permission.
If you plan on relying on the tenant’s permission for extensive work, be sure to obtain written confirmation from them. Make sure they understand the full scope of the work, as well as when you expect it to be completed.
Access to communal parts of HMO
To fulfil their HMO management duties, managers of HMO properties need frequent access to communal areas. HMO managers must have relatively easy access to their properties to avoid being penalized up to £30,000 for failure to comply with these duties.
Fortunately, accessing communal parts without the permission of the tenant is relatively straightforward. You will only grant exclusive possession over the room you rent to your tenants by using a room-only tenancy agreement. Generally, landlords and tenants don’t need permission to access communal areas under these agreements.
You should, however, communicate with your tenants if you have a room-only agreement to let them know when you or your agents will be entering their property and to avoid entering unnecessarily.
Every contract (regardless of whether it is written in it or not) includes three rights of access for those who need to perform repairs on the property.
Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985
A minimum of 24 hours notice is required to carry out repairs. With at least 24 hours notice, access is also allowed to inspect the property to see if repairs need to be made again. Please note, however, that statutory powers of access will only allow access if the repairs or inspection are genuinely needed.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2019
A clause like this would permit the landlord to inspect the property’s condition and condition of repair after signing the tenancy agreement. At least 24 hours’ notice must be provided in writing.
Please check out this landlord guide for more information: https://www.axa.co.uk/landlord-insurance/fitness-for-human-habitation/
Housing Act 1988
Ensure that the tenant gives reasonable access to the property for repair work in all tenancy agreements. The Rent Act 1977 contains a similar provision that applies to regulated tenancies (including statutory tenancies). It is again necessary to give 24 hours notice.
For more on the Housing act 1988 please check out https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/contents
By using Lofti tenants are always notified when there is a repair issue and when a contractor or agent needs to come out and perform a repair. They’re able to see if the date provided is good for them and can also have direct contact with the contractor as well.
Can the Landlord access the property to make improvements instead of repairs?
As a result, it is important to clearly outline in your contract what access you are to have to the property for the purpose of making improvements.
Can you repair the property if the tenant refuses access?
Entering without their permission may be considered a criminal act (including a possible jail sentence) if the tenant refuses to give you access (which may lead to a lawsuit for damages).
It is necessary to inform a tenant that refusing access is a breach of contract and that they may be sued for damages if this occurs. Let them know they have a legal obligation to allow access to repairs.
As an alternative, if the tenant still refuses access, you can also consider repossession or an injunction, depending on how serious the repairs are.
If access has been refused, do not enter the premises.
Gas safety certificate access
Gas safety inspections are often difficult to obtain for landlords in social housing. The private rented sector does not seem to have as much of a problem with this. Even though there is no explicit authority of access conferred by the relevant gas safety regulations, it is generally accepted that you can rely on any clause of your tenancy agreement that permits access for repairs or the statutory right under Section 11, as this is an inspection to determine if a repair is needed.
Arrangements for viewings should be made with the tenant’s permission.
You may have an access clause in your tenancy, but it may be more appropriate to wait until your tenant has left the property before conducting viewings, particularly given the cost and difficulty of obtaining an access order in court.