Whether it be needing to access your property for a repair, routine maintenance, or having visitors over to inspect or view the property, tenants should allow you to access your property as long as you have made it convenient for them.
Convenience is a broad term, but generally, as long as you’ve given adequate notice, they should either make themselves available to personally be there or allow you to enter the property with your own set of keys.
Bear in mind all tenants have the Right to Quiet Enjoyment. This means once a tenant has signed the tenancy agreement they have the right to exclusive access to the property, with undisturbed use and peaceful occupation, without anyone else letting themselves in. They’ll also have the right to approve or deny you to access your property too, as they’re responsible for it during their tenancy.
Access your property whilst it’s tenanted without permission, and it’ll be classed as trespass and is illegal. Further to this, a claim for damages and/or an injunction to prevent entry to the landlord or managing agent.
The Contractual Rights For You To Access Your Property
We’d suggest reading the tenancy agreement through, to ensure it includes the right to gain access and enter the property. Further to this, it should outline clear instructions as to when a tenant must provide access.
This section should normally make it clear that if the tenant refuses you to access your property, they’ll be in breach of their contract.
This’ll leave you – as a landlord – in a position to be able to seek damages if they don’t comply with reasonable requests for you to enter the property.
Access Your Property With Tenant’s Permission
Generally, most tenancy agreements will outline the contractual agreement for the right to access the property. But best practice dictates that the tenant’s permission is asked in advance.
You mustn’t assume access; this can cause conflict as to whether permission has been given or not. The best way to proceed would be to make it clear when you’ll need access and have a discussion to relay to them why access to the property is necessary.
If there are ongoing works, you’ll need to rely on the tenant’s permission for this too, best way to avoid miscommunication would be to get this consent put in writing. Outlining the full extent of work being undertaken, and the time-scale in which they should expect this access to last until. If the works over-run its initial time scale, look to add this in writing too to avoid potential conflicts.
Access Your Property Communal Areas – HMOs
An HMO (House In Multiple Occupation) is subject to slightly different rules. You’ll generally have a tenancy agreement aimed specifically towards the individual rooms in the property. To fulfil the HMO management duties, access to the communal areas of the property is required. Not keeping up with these duties could land you with a hefty fine!
As above, the right to quiet enjoyment and exclusive access is now subjected to the individual room stated in their agreement. So, the rules for giving adequate notice to enter are now exclusively for that room. These agreements should state that free access is assumed into the communal areas, without expressed permission from tenants being necessary.
We’d still suggest that if a landlord, contractor, or agent enters the property, the tenants at the bare minimum are informed that someone will be in or around the communal areas. It’ll help keep a standard of transparency and mutual respect between both parties.
Needing To Access Your Property For Repairs Or Maintenance
Arranging for repairs and maintenance is a key part of being a responsible landlord, and in these cases, the rights of access are implied as a standard in every contract, whether it is stated or not.
Under the Housing Act 1988, it implies that in all tenancy agreements the tenant will have to give reasonable access to allow for repairs to be carried out. It is expected that at least 24 hours’ notice is given in the case of getting access to the property.
The Homes (Fitness for human habitation) Act 2019 also implies a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows you to access your property to inspect its condition and state of repair. As above, this also should be informed to the tenant with at least 24 hours prior notice.
And finally, Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 allows access to carry out repairs with again, at least 24 hours’ notice. It goes further to permit access to carry out inspections to see if repairs are needed again. A point to note would be that the power of access would only be applicable if there is a genuine need to carry out repairs or to inspect whether further repairs will be needed.
Access Your Property To Make Improvements
There is a distinct difference between making repairs and making improvements to the property.
A repair is rectifying an issue or damage to make the living standards acceptable and/or safe. An improvement is something that isn’t a necessity, but it is done for either your, or your tenant’s enjoyment.
Ideally, for improvements, you’ll have set out in the terms of the agreement you are allowed to access your property as long as sensible notice is given beforehand. Beyond this, if you haven’t included it in the signed agreement, you’ll have to rely on the tenant’s understanding for permission to access it.
The Tenant Is Refusing You To Access Your Property For Vital Repairs
A tenant refusing access for repairs is a breach of contract, in some instances, you could also sue for damages. But an important point to note is, you should not enter the property without their expressed consent.
But if you do get refused access, make them aware that they are in breach of contract by doing this. This’ll be the opportunity for you to reiterate to them their legal obligations to allow access for repairs.
Even after speaking with them regarding their responsibilities, if they continue to refuse access you might decide to take further measures. These measures could be to either gaining repossession of the property, or even to seek enforcement of the contract with an injunction to allow you access.
It might seem like drastic measures, but depending on the urgency of the repair, it may be necessary. But once again, you should not enter, or attempt to enter the property if the tenant has refused you access. Doing so could land you with a criminal conviction for trespass.
Access Your Property For Gas Safety Inspections
If your tenant refuses access for gas safety inspections, all is not lost. In cases like these, the Health and Safety Executive have previously explained landlords won’t be prosecuted in events where a landlord has made at least 3 genuine attempts to gain permission for access to the property.
But these genuine attempts should be backed by substantiated proof in writing, kept as a record, along with how the access was refused.
Most of what’s explained above will probably make you feel as if the rights mainly sit in the laps of your tenant, and you’d be right. There should be mutual respect where the tenant has their right to quiet enjoyment of the property they rent, but still give allowances for times and days for access to be given whether it’s for an inspection, remedial works, or improvement works.
Not all tenants are as easy-going as you’d like, but take some time to reflect on how you’ve acted as a landlord. Are you giving your tenants adequate notice to enter? Are you communicating this in a fair and transparent way? Are you continuously disturbing them during working hours?
Mutual respect is the key aspect to focus on with any tenant you have in your property. Without this, it’ll make these situations harder than they should be.
If you need further help regarding this issue, you’re welcome to have a brief chat with our property experts for further advice.