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Can landlords enter a property without permission?

by | Dec 15, 2022

Home $ Property Management $ Work With Private Landlords No Agents $ Can landlords enter a property without permission?

In this article, we will discuss the legal rights and responsibilities of landlords when it comes to entering a rental property. We will address the issue of landlords entering a property without permission and if there are any grounds in which it is allowed. From the laws involved with this to if a tenant can ever refuse entry, this article talks about landlords entering a property without permission in detail.

It is vital for a landlord or a tenant to understand this information as tenants have certain rights around being able to experience quiet enjoyment in their home but there are also valid reasons for a landlord to enter in an emergency. So pay attention to the information in this article carefully as you don’t want to issue or find that you are subject to tenant fees, fines or court dates due to malpractice of the law.

The law surrounding whether landlords can enter property without permission

Is it possible for the landlord to enter the house when the tenant is not there?

In order for a landlord to enter the property without the tenant being there they would have to have gained permission from the tenant beforehand with a relevant landlord inspection notice. Many tenants will be okay with this, especially if this was explained at the start of their tenancy or in a written tenacy agreement.

Having said this, the landlord still has to provide sufficient notice (24 hours) before they can enter a property without a tenant being there and even then it must be for a good reason like conducting safety inspections, changing the locks on the doors or dealing with a major property issue.

What is meant by the right to quiet enjoyment for a tenant?

The right to quiet enjoyment is a legal term that refers to a tenant’s right to peacefully occupy and use their rental property without interference from the landlord.

This means that the landlord cannot enter the property without the tenant’s consent, unless they have a legitimate reason for doing so and have given the tenant a landlord inspection notice 24 hours before that states what the reason for the notice is for.

Additionally, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that as the tenant lives in and uses the property they aren’t subject to excessive noise or engaging in other disruptive behaviour from neighbours or other tenants if they live in a shared property.

The right to quiet enjoyment is also important because it is protected by the law. Landlords who violate a tenant’s rights can be shown to have breached their tenancy agreement which may result in being sued by the tenant.

Worse yet, if a landlord gains a reputation, a tenant could report them to the rogue landlord database. Tenant’s can then check this database out here on the government’s website and it could become hard to rent out the property.

How does a landlord enter a home to conduct property viewings?

A landlord may enter the home of a tenant in order to conduct viewings but they have to be granted permission to do so. Unlike if the landlord had to enter the property for more important reasons like conduct a safety check or do repairs, if the tenant refuses, it is not a breach of their tenancy agreement.

However, in order for a landlord and tenant to get along well, it would be a good idea for a landlord to include in the tenancy agreement and perhaps explain verbally at the start of the agreement about how viewings work. They could show that the tenant will not be disrespected, include a tenancy viewing clause in their agreement and potentially give extra notice about the viewings in order to get the tenant to comply.

Nonetheless, even if a tenant agrees, it could be hard to get the court to do anything about it if the tenant refuses to allow viewings in a property as there is no law that states a tenant is entitled to allow a landlord to enter the property with or without permission to do viewings.

A house which can be entered without permission

This highlights the importance of doing the right tenancy referencing so you know if a tenant is likely to be combative. Also, it is in the landlord’s best interest to take care of tenants so they are compliant and want to be polite if you ask for a viewing within reason.

Why would a landlord want to access a property without permission?

A landlord may want to access a property without permission for scenarios that are an emergency.

In emergency situations, there could be a fire or a gas leak. In other cases, a landlord may need to change the locks on the doors for security reasons, such as if a tenant loses their keys or if the landlord is concerned about unauthorised access to the property. 

In a fire or gas leak

In the UK, a landlord may be allowed to enter a property without permission in case of an emergency that is a threat to human life. Examples of emergency situations that may warrant a landlord’s entry without permission include fires or gas leaks.

In such cases, the landlord doesn’t need to make any effort to give the tenants notice of their intention to enter the property and it is completely acceptable to enter if they feel people could be in danger or the structure of their property is about to be compromised due to a gas leak having the potential to cause an explosion.

<h3>Due to the death of a tenant or crime scene

Other reasons that a landlord can enter a property for includes a crime scene at the property or the death of a tenant. In this case, the landlord may not need to enter the property themself as they could give the keys to the relevant professionals such as the police or an undertaker service to do their job.

However, this would still be considered the landlord’s choice to make as these professionals would be acting on behalf of the landlord.

By changing the locks

Changing the locks on a property must be done if the tenant loses their keys or if there is a change of tenant in the property. This gives the tenant and the landlord the satisfaction that they are safe in the property and no one from previous tenancies or who has found lost keys can enter private areas.

This may include the individual rooms of a property if the premises is classed as a HMO or it could mean the front or back door of a house. Changing the locks on the doors is a relatively inexpensive process as the cost to change locks is around £100 on average.

If this is done every few years when a tenancy changes, then the cost is negligible in the long term. All in all, a landlord has the right to enter a property and make these changes without permission as it is considered unsafe for the tenant to go without the right protection on their door.

A notice given so a landlord can enter a property without permission

Why would a landlord need to enter a property formally?

A landlord may want access to a property in the UK for several reasons. For example, a landlord may need to enter the property to perform an annual safety check to ensure that the property is safe and the tenant is using the property correctly.

Additionally, a landlord may need to enter the property to make repairs or carry out maintenance work under the safety laws in the Landlord and Tenant’s Act found here.

In some cases, a landlord may also need to enter the property to evict a tenant under section 21 or section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 you can read here. This is not an emergency and the landlord still needs the right documents in order to do so, even if the tenant is in breach of their agreement.

If a landlord enters a property formally by gaining permission through a notice like for the reasons above, they still have to make sure they enter at a reasonable time which is typically during daylight hours or working hours (9am to 5pm).

If the landlord gives 24 hours notice that inspections have to be done in this way then the tenant under any circumstance cannot refuse entry to the property they are renting. The landlord could then (after proving to the court that they have reasonably tried to negotiate with the tenant to enter the property at a convenient time) gain an injunction to enter.

Planned preventative maintenance

You may be familiar with the safety checks a landlord has to do on a property as part of planned preventative maintenance. This includes the gas safety checks that have to be done every year, electrical safety checks that have to be done every five years and energy performance certificates that have to be issued every ten years.

If a landlord needs to conduct any of these checks, they would have to formally give an inspection notice within twenty four hours before being able to legally gain access to the property.

Section 8 and Section 21

A landlord shouldn’t be able to enter a property without permission if they want to evict a tenant. They still have to follow the legal process around eviction, even if there are serious grounds for eviction such as rent arrears and the landlord is evicting the tenant under section 8.

The landlord would have to give two months notice for a section 21 and between two weeks and two months under section 8 (depending on the agreement and the terms breached) for the tenant to leave in their own time. If they still don’t leave, the landlord will be able to then issue a court order involving bailiffs to enter the property without permission and repossess the premises.

Annual inspection

Other Inspections that mean the landlord has to enter the property include if the property shows signs that it isn’t structurally sound and they need to bring in professionals to conduct necessary repairs. However, if these repairs are very intrusive to the tenants of the property and repairs have to be done over more than two weeks, it may be necessary for the landlord to rehouse tenants temporarily.

Image representing annual inspections needed so a landlord can enter a property

The costs associated with this may be covered with the right landlord insurance. However, it is always best to make sure things don’t come to this by conducting major repairs in between tenancies or when the property is first bought.

Other than this, annual inspection may be written in a tenancy agreement where a landlord can legally enter (if the tenant has previously agreed) Within 24 hours notice to check on tenants, check for suspicious activity such as subletting and maybe deal with pests in the property if it has been a previous issue.

This can be a good opportunity for a landlord to gain a general understanding of how their property business is performing.

When can a landlord legally refuse a landlord access to their property

A tenant can legally refuse their landlord entry to the property if the landlord does not have a valid reason for needing to enter the property, such as to make repairs or carry out maintenance work.

Additionally, a tenant can refuse their landlord entry if the landlord does not give the tenant proper notice before attempting to enter the property even if the notice has been given. For example, if the notice was given 12 hours ago and the landlord tries to enter, this is not enough notice as the notice has to give 24 hours notice for any entry by the landlord or anyone working on behalf of them.

However, a tenant cannot refuse access if it is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention.

Nor can they refuse entry if the landlord is trying to evict them under section 21 or section 8. In these cases, the landlord has the right to enter the property to carry out the eviction after the notice period is up.

When is it classed as harassment by the landlord?

Harassment may include the landlord entering the property more than they need to or a landlord entering a property without notice or the right period of time for a notice. Harassment from a landlord doesn’t have to be because they have entered a property without permission either. It could be due to anything that happens in a property that makes a tenant feel unsafe or forces them to leave.

In general, it can mean they are in breach of their tenancy agreement. For instance, if a landlord:

  • Stops gas and electricity to a property
  • Holds keys and refuses to give them back
  • Has threatening or abusive behaviour
  • Refuses to give back a deposit
  • Raises the rent more than the legal amount

It would be harassment for a landlord to retaliate against a disagreement in this way. If they think a tenant has done wrong, they should go through the legal process for evicting the tenant rather than breaching their responsibilities of the tenancy agreement in protest.

Are rules different for entering a HMO?

Yes, landlords have the right to access shared areas of a property they own, such as the kitchen, living room, and other common areas, for inspections and maintenance work, as well as to collect rent.

However, they do not have the right to enter a tenant’s bedroom without permission and must provide written notice at least 24 hours in advance. This is the only exception for entry to a property without permission, barring an emergency. The same goes for the shared space in a leasehold property.

A tenant in a HMO who doesn’t need to give permission for a landlord to enter

Is it legal for a landlord to enter my garden without permission?

In general no, not unless the property is a HMO. A tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment and this includes their garden space. However, it may be that in the tenancy agreement it states garden maintenance may be required which if agreed to, the tenant would have to allow.

This is usually done during an annual inspection of a property and is not mandatory that a tenant agrees. To avoid confusion, a tenant should make sure they read over this in the tenancy agreement before they sign it.

In summary

In conclusion, it is important for landlords to respect the privacy of their tenants and to not enter a property without permission if they don’t want to be sued. Nonetheless, landlords do have permission to enter a property without permission for the right reasons. Some of which need a notice beforehand and some of which don’t because they are considered an emergency.

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