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Agony Agent

17th June 2017

Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords to experienced owners. Agony Agent, is here to help!

Q:  I want to gain access to my property to carry out repairs, how do I do this?

A:  You need to know in what circumstances you can obtain access to a tenanted property that you own.  Legally, when you grant a tenancy you give the tenant exclusive possession i.e. the right to exclude the world, including you and your agent. Entry without the tenant’s permission, unless you have the right to do so, is a trespass and the tenant could take action to claim damages or an injunction to prevent entry by the you or your agent. Access can be permitted in one of two ways, either by a provision in the tenancy agreement or where the law grants right of access. Access will normally only be needed to carry out repairs, or to inspect the property to see whether repairs or other works are needed.

The tenant can always give permission to you or your workmen to enter. This permission must not be assumed. There can be arguments to whether permission has or has not been given.  If you are going to rely on permission make sure that the tenant fully understands why you need to go in to the property. Even if the tenant appears to have given permission to enter, the permission may not be valid at all if you have misled the tenant as to why you want to go in or if you have not informed the tenant about the reasons for access. For extensive works, if you are going to rely on the tenants permission then make sure you get it confirmed in writing by the tenant, for example, via email or text, something that has a time and date stamp.

Remember there is a difference between repairs and improvements and unless your wording in your tenancy agreement covers both then your tenant can refuse you access.

Please make sure that the below clauses are included in your tenancy agreement, as this will allow ease of access:

  • Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 This allows access to carry our repairs on at least 24 hours’ notice. It also permits access to carry out inspections to see if repairs are needed again on at least 24 hours’ notice.
  • Housing Act 1988 This term should be in all tenancy agreements, requesting tenants to give reasonable access to allow repairs to be carried out at the property. Again 24 hour written notice is required.

It should also be remembered that unless access is legally authorised then allegations of harassment on the part of you or your agent may arise. Feel free to give me a call if you need assistance.

Richard Bond

Lettings Manager

Sow & Reap

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