Is your tenant not allowing access to the property? 

Where do you legally stand if your tenant refusing to let you into your rented property?

Sound familiar?  You are not alone!

Firstly, please try not to get angry and act impulsively as this can get you into all sorts of legal problems.  Stay calm and read on to find out where you stand and what your options are…

The landlord’s right of access:

This is a difficult one, so bear with us while we attempt to explain.

Basically, there are 2 laws which almost counteract each other here; the first being that the tenants are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’, which means that they have a legal right to live in the property as their own home, without harassment from the landlord.  The second (Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) states that the landlord has a legal obligation to repair and maintain the property, therefore the tenant is obliged to allow access for essential repairs/safety checks.  Despite this law, landlords are obviously not allowed to force entry and need permission from their tenant to enter.

So, as you can see, it’s complicated!

We advise that your first step as a landlord is to make every possible ‘reasonable’ effort to communicate with your tenant, explaining why you need access (for essential maintenance work, for example) and giving them notice.  As difficult as it may be, remain calm and polite.  If they still refuse entry, follow these steps: –

  • Write to your tenant

We recommend that you send at least 3 strongly written letters (perhaps one every week over a monthly period) explaining why a visit is so vital.  Try to record/document everything you do by keeping copies of every letter, and make sure you send each one by recorded delivery so that you have proof that they were received.  This will also cover you in case your tenants are ‘rogue’ and they want to make life difficult for you; it stops them being able to make a claim against you under the ‘neglecting your responsibilities to repair and maintain’ umbrella.

  • Contact your local council

Your local council may be able to help you if your tenant is not allowing you access to the property, particularly if it is an essential maintenance or safety issue.  Ask someone ‘official’ to speak to your tenants on your behalf and explain why access is necessary.  Make sure you take a note of the name of the council official, the time of the call and what was said; you could even get them to sign it – more evidence in your favour, should it end up in court.

  • Threaten to take your tenant to court for ‘access’

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to take matters into your own hands, and ensure that you continually follow the correct ‘legal protocol’.  Difficult, we understand, but imperative!

If your tenant is not allowing access to the property and you have made a number of ‘fair and reasonable’ attempts to request access, then now is the time where you threaten to take them to court for ‘access’.  When we say ‘threaten’ we don’t mean literally – please don’t visit the property and stand on the doorstep – you need to ‘threaten’ by recorded letter (continue to collect evidence).

  • Apply for an injunction through the courts or use Section 21 (repossession)

Your next step is one of the above.  An injunction to the tenant not allowing you access to the property to gain access can be applied for, presuming you have followed the correct protocol above.  If the court can see you have made every ‘reasonable’ effort to gain access, you should be ok.

The preferred option at this stage may be to serve a Section 21 repossession notice.  At this stage, your relationship with your tenant has clearly broken down, and you probably want them out permanently.  (See our blog titled, ‘How can I evict a tenant legally?’).

If you need further help or information, your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be happy to help with FREE legal advice.  If your situation is complicated, or you suspect illegal activity, you may need to speak to a solicitor.

Have you ever had a tenant not allowing you access to the property?  What action did you take?  What was the outcome? We would love to know…

If you have any further questions or points you would like to discuss with us on this topic, we would love to hear from you…

Pop into our office in West Street, Chichester for a coffee and an informal chat or alternatively you can email us or call us on 01243 788257