Landlord access to a tenanted property: FAQs

Landlords Nov 23, 2021

Although landlords might own their property, they aren’t allowed to access a tenant’s home unannounced or without notice. This is because tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, i.e. the right to live without unnecessary interference. Occasionally, there are times when a landlord must balance the right of quiet enjoyment and the need for immediate access in the case of an emergency. While unannounced or unauthorised entry is permitted in limited circumstances, other questions often arise as a result of the legal grey area that governs landlord access to their rental property.

To learn more about how and when landlords can gain access to rental properties, read our FAQ down below.

Can the landlord enter without permission from the tenants?

In most cases, landlords cannot enter a rented property without tenant permission. However, in emergency cases, entry is permitted. Safety-related emergencies are the most common reason that a landlord is justified in gaining immediate access. Under Common law, tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, meaning the tenant has the right to live in the rental property without landlord interference. The covenant  of quiet enjoyment requires landlords to request permission before they a rented property.

A landlord making unannounced visits without proper cause or making frequent visits, with permission but without good reason, can be considered as violating the right to quiet enjoyment. Legitimate reasons for requesting property access include annual inspections, necessary repair and maintenance, gas safety checks, and new tenancy viewings.

Landlords can gain access without notice or consent only during an emergency. Examples of acceptable emergency circumstances for immediate access include but are not limited to: gas leaks, fire, flooding, dire structural damage, smelling of decay, and potential illegal activity. Emergency circumstances are rare and usually limited to scenarios where there is an immediate threat to life.

Can the landlord enter without the tenant present?

A landlord can only enter rental properties without the tenant present if the tenant has granted permission or in the event of an emergency.

How much notice do landlords need to provide?

Under the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, the minimum notice period for entry is 24 hours. Landlords must have a genuine reason for requesting access and give notice through email, phone, text, or by in-person communication (the choice should depend upon the tenant’s preference). When possible, landlord notice should be delivered in a written format.  

However, a landlord’s request for entry can be denied by a tenant. For access regarding repairs and required inspections, landlords should coordinate with their tenants what time works best. In the rare cases where tenants continuously deny landlord access requests, regarding maintenance services, the landlord can seek a court order to gain access to the rental property. Involving the court should be a last resort, used only in drastic circumstances where there has been a total breakdown in communication.

What are the landlords rights of access for repairs and inspections?

Landlords can enter the rental property after their tenants grant permission. Repairs and inspections should be scheduled at a reasonable time and a request for access should be issued with at least 24 hours' notice (though ideally with as much prior warning as possible). Tenants can let the landlord in, have someone on their behalf let the landlord in, or allow the landlord to enter with their own key.

Landlords should try to get written confirmation of their permission to access the property for their records wherever possible. This protects you in the unlikely event of any disputes further down the line.

Can the landlord access the property for viewings and valuations?

For the most part, landlords who seek property access for viewings and valuations must have permission granted from tenants. Occasionally  “viewing clauses” are written into tenancy agreements. Viewing clauses must be mutually agreed upon by both parties and give permission to landlords or property agents to enter the property in the final month of tenancy (with proper notice). However, even then, the clause might be vacated upon review with consideration to the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Upon the start of a tenancy, a landlord’s right to property access is drastically curtailed. A tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment takes precedence in almost every circumstance where the landlord might want to request access to the property. However, landlords can still enter their property unannounced and without permission during times of emergencies, such as life-threatening situations or if there is credible suspicion of serious criminal activity.

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