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Access to the Property by the Landlord


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Access to the property by the landlord

 

The landlord has the right to 'reasonable' access to carry out repairs for which s/he is responsible, but s/he should always ask for the tenant's permission, and should give at least 24 hours' notice (s11(6) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985). If the landlord wants to enter the property for any other reason, for example, to show round a prospective purchaser, s/he can only do this with the tenant's agreement. The tenant is fully entitled to refuse his/her permission if the date/time is inconvienient. The tenant should not refuse without good grounds, as it may cause a breakdown of relationship with the landlord.

 

The tenant has a right of quiet enjoyment of the tenancy. This means that s/he can occupy the premises without being disturbed by the landlord or her/his agents. Quiet enjoyment is an implied contractual right whether or not it is written into the tenancy agreement. A licensee does not have this right.

 

Entering the property without the tenant's permission

 

If the landlord is repeatedly entering the accommodation without the tenant's permission, s/he is committing a civil offence because:-

• s/he is in breach of contract, because s/he has broken the implied term to allow the tenant uninterrupted use of the accommodation. This is known as breach of quiet enjoyment; and

• s/he is trespassing on the tenant's premises.

 

Any action taken by a tenant or licensee may antagonise the landlord and cause her/him to take steps to evict her/him

 

The tenant should initially try to negotiate with the landlord. In some cases, it may be advantageous for the bureau to negotiate on the tenant's behalf. The tenant may be able to judge whether the landlord would react more positively to an approach from the bureau.

 

If the landlord continues to enter the accommodation, the tenant may wish to change the locks. S/he should take care not to damage the door and should keep the old lock and key, as these are the property of the landlord. Alternatively, s/he could just change the barrel of the lock. The tenant does not have to give the landlord a key, but s/he must continue to allow the landlord reasonable access to carry out repairs.

 

 

A tenant could also be advised to contact the local council's Tenancy Relations Officer (TRO) (also sometimes called a tenancy liaison officer or a tenancy harassment officer) if there is one. The TRO will usually be based in the local authority housing department or the legal department. The TRO is responsible for dealing with private sector tenancy disputes and should try to sort out the problem by negotiation.

 

If there is no TRO, or s/he will not help, or is not successful, the tenant can go to the county court to get an injunction to stop the landlord entering the accommodation without permission. S/he could also sue for cash compensation if the landlord has caused any damage to her/his property or if s/he has suffered any shock or distress as a result of the landlord's actions. S/he may be eligible for publicly-funded legal services.

 

Harassment

 

If the landlord is entering the accommodation so often and at such times that the tenant no longer feels secure in her/his own home, this could be interpreted as a form of harassment. Harassment is a criminal offence and the landlord could be prosecuted. There are also civil remedies to deal with harassment.

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