4 Property Maintenance
4.3 Tenancy maintenance
The tenancy agreement may stipulate the procedure for the routine inspection of the property by the landlord or agent. If this is not stated in the tenancy agreement, the property must be visited at normal times of the day, provided that reasonable written notice (at least 24 hours) has been given to the tenant.
If the tenant refuses access, you have no right to enter the property without a court order. To enter the property against the wishes of the tenant may be considered harassment.
The tenancy agreement should contain provision for entry in emergencies. In the event that you hold a spare key, entry should only be with the express consent of the tenant or in the case of a genuine emergency.
Forced entry should only be considered:
- if it is an emergency event such as a fire
- in the event of problems with gas, electrics or escape of water that pose real risk of injury or significant damage to the property or adjoining properties; or
- in the event that the tenant is unavailable or does not respond and you have genuine reason to believe the property has been abandoned.
Access for inspections
Unauthorised access by landlords is a big problem as many landlords genuinely do not realise that by renting out the property to a tenant they have lost the right to go in and out of it as they please.
Problem situations tend to be:
- Access for inspections
- Access for the annual gas safety inspection, and
- Access to show round prospective new tenants or purchasers of the property
Often tenants are unwilling to allow access, even for something which is for their benefit such as the gas safety inspection, as they consider it to be an intrusion on their privacy.
This article on the Landlord Law Blog attempted to set out situations when landlords could use their keys to go into the property when the tenant is not there – but prompted a fierce discussion with some landlords insist that they have the right to go in in these situations.
There are also problems with abandonment. Many landlords consider that it is sufficient to put an ‘abandonment notice’ on the door of the property. However this will not justify the landlord recovering possession of the property if the tenant has not actually abandoned it. For example tenants could be
- in hospital
- on holiday or
- in prison
None of these justify re-covering possession of the property per se. Whether or not a notice has been put on the door.
I talk about these issues in this Landlord Law Blog post on abandonment.
The only way a landlord can be justified in retaking possession is under the doctrine of ‘implied surrender’. If the conduct of the tenant is incompatible with an intention to continue with the tenancy then this is deemed to be an ‘implied offer to surrender’ the tenancy, which the landlord can then accept by going in and changing the locks.
I explain this concept in this post.