There are few scenarios quite so distressing to landlords as their tenant not allowing access to their property. If you find yourself experiencing this problem, then you’re going to need to know how to resolve it.
In an effort to help you find a solution, read through the points below and apply them to the awkward situation you are experiencing.
The legalities of the situation
It’s easy to think that, as the owner of the property, access is a right— but this is not the case. When you sign a tenancy agreement, you essentially sign away your rights to access the building. The tenant is the party who has the choice as to who can and can’t enter the building, not you.
This might sound odd, but it’s actually a key component of how tenancies work. No tenant would sign an agreement where their landlord is permitted access as and when they please; they would feel violated, and unable to relax in their own home. So while there’s sympathy for landlords who cannot access their property, it’s also important to acknowledge that your tenancy agreement stipulates that the tenant has a right of refusal.
If you attempt to access the property without the tenant’s consent, then you could find yourself struggling with legal issues.
The “notice” problem
Many landlords believe that their tenant has to provide property access, providing the landlord gives 24 hours written notice. This may even be written into your contract. However, this isn’t legally enforceable, and violates the tenant’s basic rights to the “quiet enjoyment” of their home. So if your tenant still refuses access despite you giving notice, it’s important to note they do have the right to do so.
Forbidding access for essential maintenance
If you are requesting access for essential maintenance — such as the annual gas safety check — and your tenant refuses, then you have more leverage. You will likely need to take the matter to a local court, who can grant you temporary access. However, this is a time-consuming and potentially expensive process, so wherever possible, it’s best to try and talk to your tenant first.
Options to try
If your tenant is forbidding access, then you need to talk to them — preferably face to face — to ascertain the reason. They may be struggling with a heavy work schedule or suffering through a period of ill health; a refusal to allow access is not always a sign that there is something amiss with the property.
Be flexible. Offer a range of times and dates at which you wish to visit the property, so they can find something that suits your schedule.
Explain your purpose. Wanting to “check on the place” isn’t a great justification; use words like “annual inspection” or “necessary safety checks”.
Unfortunately, if your tenant refuses to allow access to the property, it’s within their legal rights to do so. All you can do is ask, explain your reasons, and consider legal options if it comes to that.
At Smartspace, we’re experts at taking the stress out of owning a buy-to-let property, so feel free to get in touch to discuss our landlord services— we’ll work hard to ensure a solution to any issues you experience.