This week’s expert is Miles Turner, director of Mr. Landlord Eviction Services.
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it a criminal offence to harass a tenant. If, for example a landlord accesses the property every day to make sure it is being looked after, this would clearly be unreasonable and could lead to the landlord being prosecuted.
What is reasonable access?
Strangely enough there is no statutory provision for any rights for landlords to access a property rented by a tenant. In other words the tenant does not have to grant access. However landlords have an obligation to maintain their properties. The law therefore implies that with this obligation comes a right of access. If the tenant refuses access for repairs the landlord could take court proceedings to compel the tenant to allow access and seek damages from the tenant if lack of access made the job more expensive to undertake.
What about access for inspections or to allow a prospective tenant access to view?
The law in respect of ASTs consists of some basis rules that parliament has set down, however, the law also allows the landlord and tenant to negotiate certain aspects of the agreement between themselves subject to certain restrictions.
This allows landlords to add to the tenancy agreement clauses allowing us access in certain circumstances. For example, to inspect and repair or to allow prospective tenants/buyers or surveyors/valuers access. So when creating your tenancy agreement, try and specify what is reasonable for access and ensure that the tenant agrees. Usually 24 to 48 hours is the average notice given to tenants of any impending access, but again this can be negotiated.
Unless given permission by the tenant, landlords and agents cannot use a spare key to gain entry or access to a property and only in cases of emergency, such as a gas leak, can a landlord access a property without consent from the tenant and even then it is recommended that they are accompanied by an independent witness.
For further details visit the Mr Landlord website.