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Know your rights: Landlord access

18 September 2015 / By: / Under: Landlords

With private landlords in the UK owning property worth an estimated £990.7bn and it being predicted that by 2020 the total number of rented homes will have increased to 5.5 million (about one in five households), it should come as little surprise that one of the main causes of tension between landlords and tenants is a misunderstanding of the landlord’s right to inspect or view properties that they own.

As letting agents in Bromley and the majority of London’s 31 other boroughs, Assetgrove has noted that tensions between landlords and tenants are more likely to escalate into a full-blown dispute because the stakes for property investors are higher.

With a residential home within the M25 now worth an average of £525,000 and monthly rents near the £1500 mark, landlords in London are understandably keen to keep a close eye on their property assets.

Do I have the right to visit my rental property?

In broad terms, The Housing Act 1988 denies a landlord the right to turn up unannounced at their property and gain access. According to the legislation, landlords must provide their tenants with at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.

However, landlords do have three rights of access to their property. There are…

  • The Right of Reasonable Access. Your first right as a landlord is a right of reasonable access to carry out repairs. The definition of reasonable access, of course, depends on why you need to gain entry. In an emergency, for example, you’ll be entitled to immediately enter the property to carry out any necessary work. It’s very rare for such a scenario to arise, and will only come into force when there’s a threat to safety. Examples of such a threat include a fire in the property, the smell of gas, structural damage that urgently needs attention or the suspicion of a violent or criminal incident
  • The Right to Enter to Inspect the Property’s State of Repair/Empty a Fuel Slot Meter. Beware that this right does not give you immediate access, and 24 hours’ notice must be given.
  • The Right to Enter in Order to Provide Room Cleaning Services. This third right only comes into play if you draw up an agreement stating that you’ll provide a room-cleaning service, or where the room is shared by multiple lodgers. In this scenario, you don’t need to obtain permission before entering the property.

The bad news is that in every other circumstance, you don’t have a right of entry unless you obtain a court order stating otherwise.

Can I visit at any time provided notice has been provided?

Your tenancy agreement will state that visits must only be made at reasonable times of day. This gives your tenant has the option to be present during the visit, has an opportunity to tidy up before the visit and is able to arrange to have a witness present if you don’t have the best relationship with them.

Can I take other people into the property?

If your tenant has given notice that they want to move out, you have the right to both conduct visits and show the property to prospective new tenants. However, this only comes into effect during the last 28 days of a standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

The same right exists whether you’ve served a Notice to Terminate (essentially, a notice of eviction) or your tenant has given notice that they’re moving out. If you’ve served notice before the end of the lease agreement, then this must have been done in accordance with Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Even in this situation, access is only gained by providing 24 hours’ notice in writing.

Penalties for breaking the rules

If you fail to abide by these rules, you run a very real risk of being prosecuted for harassment under the Housing Act 1988.

Here at Assetgrove, we understand that landlords are keen to safeguard their property assets. That is why our Rent Guarantee Scheme is the ultimate way to get ‘hassle free’ letting. Here at Assetgrove, we can take the stress out of managing your property and can ensure you receive fixed monthly payments even if your property’s not rented out. Assetgrove offers up to 5 years guaranteed rent and will manage every single aspect of the tenancy during this period – with no monthly fees, commissions or hidden surprises to pay for.

To find out more about Assetgrove works with landlords to maximise the value of their rental property, contact us today.

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