One of the key legal features of a tenancy is that it gives the tenant the right to exclusive possession of the rental property against everyone, including the landlord. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and the landlord does have limited rights to access the property for certain legitimate purposes.
In all cases the landlord should be sure to obtain the tenant’s permission, although in most cases this permission can be inferred if the tenant is given notice that the landlord requires access and does not raise any objection to this. It should be remembered that the tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the rental property without interference from the landlord and that continual unreasonable requests for access may constitute a breach of the tenancy agreement.
Inspection of Premises
As a landlord, you have a right to inspect the rental property to ensure that the tenant is keeping it in a clean and sanitary condition, that he is not causing a danger or nuisance to neighbours and that he is observing the conditions of the tenancy.
If there is a written tenancy agreement, the procedure for making an inspection and notifying the tenant will be outlined here. In the absence of a written agreement which specifies this process, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable written notice of the inspection and must take the necessary steps to ensure that the tenant receives this notice. In practice this means that the landlord should email or text the client or leave a note at the property informing him of the date and time of the inspection. ‘Reasonable’ notice is usually taken to mean not less than 24 hours.
As a landlord you do not have the right to make unannounced inspection visits, or to enter the property in the tenants absence to inspect its condition, and to do so would be a serious breach of the tenancy.
Access for Repairs
The landlord has a right to enter the property, or to direct his agents or employees to enter the property in order to carry out necessary repair work, or work which they are legally obliged to undertake. The procedure for securing access should be outlined int he tenancy agreement to prevent disputes, and again, if there is no tenancy agreement then the landlord or someone acting on his behalf may enter the property to carry out necessary repairs to the property or to a neighbouring plot so long as they give reasonable notice.
Tenants do not have any right to prevent the landlord from accessing the property to carry out work of this nature, and if they attempt to prevent the landlord accessing the property, they will have breached their tenancy agreement and the landlord may be able to commence legal proceedings to evict them
For work which does not constitute necessary repairs, the landlord is not usually entitled to access. For example, in the case of a tenancy which is coming to an end, the landlord is not entitled to enter the property to undertake decorating or refurbishment work in anticipation of the new tenants moving in.
Access in Emergencies
Where there is a real risk that someone might come to harm, or that the property or any neighbouring property might suffer damage, the landlord may re-enter the property immediately and without warning. This might be the case, for example, where there is a fire or gas leak, or where there is a risk of flooding or where a structural defect poses a safety risk.