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Tenants – is your landlord going into your property without telling you first?

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Landlords entering a tenant’s property without permission can be a real problem.

What is the law?

In law, landlords are supposed to give not less than 24 hours written notice.  However, under the ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ which is a rule which applies to all tenancy agreements and which cannot be excluded, tenants have the right to refuse entry to landlords if they wish.

Landlords sometimes dispute this, because under legislation (for example the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s11(6)) landlords have a right to enter the property to view its condition and state of repair.  Other legislation has similar clauses.

There may also be a clause in your tenancy agreement authorising the landlord to enter to carry out inspections – for example for the annual gas safety check, or to show round prospective tenants in the last two months of the tenancy.

So what are your rights?

Although landlords do have this right of entry (for the specific purposes set out in the legislation or on your tenancy agreement), it cannot be exercised against the your, tenant’s will.  If a you say ‘no, you cannot come in’ then your landlord cannot come in.

Although note that you will be in breach of contract if you refuse to allow your landlord to enter at all for a legitimate purpose.  And this could form the basis of a claim for possession.

So its OK to refuse your landlord permission to do a property inspection for, say, next Wednesday (maybe because you have a party for your young daughter on that day or will be out) but you should agree to re-arrange the appointment for a day which is convenient for both of you.

What can you do if your landlord persistently enters against your wishes?

This can be a problem.  So, in the past I have advised female tenants whose male landlords keep entering without permission.

For example I can remember one tenant telling me that she was scared to take a bath after coming out one day wrapped in a towel to see her landlord leering up at her from the bottom of the stairs.

The thing to do is to first write to your landlord asking them to stop.  If they carry on then in my view you are entitled to change the locks (although you should really send more than one letter -the ideal number is three).

However, it is best to get legal advice before changing the locks as often tenancy agreements have prohibitions against this.  So you need to be sure of your position before doing anything.

If you do not have a tenancy

Then your rights are different and your landlord may be entitled to enter, particularly if you are a lodger. 

You should check your lodger agreement and take advice.

Find out more

We have a Preumum Guide (England only) which you can buy for £10 which has further guidance on your rights (if you are a tenant) and draft letters for you to send to your landlord.

Find out more about this and by online > here.

If you want some legal advice see our > article here.

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