One of the most common causes of tension and disputes between tenants and landlords is a confusion around a landlord’s rights to view or inspect the property that they own. When studying the rights of tenants and landlords in Wales and England, it can seem as if the rights that you each have are in direct conflict with one another, yet as long as you and your tenant understand those rights, disagreements can be avoided, and arguments quashed before they arise.
When letting a property, it is crucial that you understand your responsibilities as a landlord, and theirs as a tenant. It is common for tenancy agreements to include each party’s responsibilities clearly, but due to the impact of ever-changing legislation and rules, tenancy agreements must be continuously adapted to address these changes, and because of this, your responsibilities and rights may not always be clear.
As a landlord, there will, of course, be reasons why you need to visit the property that you let out, such as for a property inspection, but it is important to note that these visits have to be made in accordance with the law. The law states that as a landlord, you must give your tenants 24 hours notice of a visit to the property. Otherwise, the tenants are within their rights legally to refuse your entry to the property, except in specific circumstances.
Understanding your tenant’s, and your own rights, when accessing the property will help build a positive relationship with your tenants, while ensuring that they are safe in the property and that it is maintained to a good standard.
Within the Landlord Obligations part of the tenancy agreement, it states that you must allow tenants uninterrupted, quiet occupation and use of the property. This is occasionally known as the covenant to quiet enjoyment, and is established as a rule within the law. If this rule is not detailed within the tenancy agreement, it is implied within the law anyway, and it allows the tenant to enjoy the home without interruption from yourself or an individual acting for you.
Within the tenancy agreement, there may also be a clause which gives you the right to visit or enter the property, but despite this provision, you should continue to seek permission from your tenant before doing so.
Your right to inspect the property will depend specifically on your reason to do so. If you wish to inspect the condition and state of the property, in relation to the repairing obligations stated in the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, S11, provided that you give your tenants a minimum of 24 hours notice before inspection, then you have the implied right to do this. However, your reason for undertaking the property inspection must be genuine.
All assured tenancies, including assured shorthold tenancies, include a clause which states that the tenant will allow the landlord access to the rental home in order to conduct repairs. Even if this is not specified as a clause within the tenancy agreement, this falls within the responsibilities of the landlord, and is a legal obligation.
Once the 24 hours notice has been issued, the landlord can only visit the property during reasonable hours, which will depend on the tenants that currently occupy the property, and the reasons behind your visit. This is particularly important in circumstances where you may need to access the home for an inspection. For example, you may consider 9:00am a reasonable time to conduct a property inspection, but if your tenant works regular night shifts, they could be asleep, and therefore this will be an unreasonable time to arrive for an inspection.
However, in an emergency situation, as a landlord and the homeowner, you have right of entry, even without obtaining permission from your tenant or giving them notice. This would include events which would cause severe damage to the property or risk of life.
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