Right to entry
As a landlord you can enter a property to carry out reasonable repair work that you are responsible for.
However, unless the tenant agrees otherwise, you can only exercise this right if you have requested access by giving the tenant at least 24 hours’ written notice of the visit and its purpose. These conditions apply only to areas where the tenant or tenants (in the case of a joint tenancy) have exclusive possession.
Visits must also be at reasonable times of the day for the tenant and must not be intrusive, otherwise they could count as harassment.
You may gain entry to communal areas that remain under your control at all reasonable hours but you should give tenant’s reasonable notice of this and the reasons why (for example testing fire alarm systems on a regular basis).
Although rare, there may be a time when there is an urgent matter that means you need to enter the property without following normal procedure (at an unreasonable time/without written notice). This should only happen in emergencies that require immediate attention and where the safety of the tenant or property is at risk.
Statutory bodies are also able to enter in appropriate circumstances (such as National Grid gas, water utility companies, or the police).
Difficulty gaining entry
Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their accommodation. Even if you give proper notice of a visit, the tenant may still legally refuse access. If a tenant refuses access you should try to resolve this before resorting to legal action. This could be by renegotiating the time/date of the appointment.
If you are experiencing difficulties in gaining entry to the accommodation for routine, maintenance or emergency purposes you should seek legal advice and/or contact our Environmental Health team for advice.
You should only consider legal action to gain access to a property if the tenant compromises your ability to fulfil your legal obligations as a landlord, because they:
- will not make alternative arrangements
- persistently causes delays
If you enter the property without the consent of the tenant or against their wishes you must be able to demonstrate, if challenged, that it was reasonable to enter under the circumstances.
Nuisance and anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour is any behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household. Examples include: noise, violence, abuse, threats and use of a property for illegal drugs.
For Houses in Multiple Occupation that require a licence with us (the local authority) a standard condition of the licence is that tenant behaviour must not adversely affect neighbours or neighbouring properties.
If anti-social behaviour is suspected (by yourself, our Environmental Health team, or the police) in one of your properties you may need to work us and/or the police to resolve the situation. You have the right to seek assistance in dealing with issues that affect your property if necessary.
In cases of noise from the property you should contact our Environmental Health team as they may be able to take enforcement action against the perpetrator.
As a private landlord you have certain legal responsibilities you need to meet (the responsibility to comply with the law still applies to you even if you have an agent to manage a property for you).
Rent Smart Wales registration and licensing
If you are a landlord with property in Wales the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 requires you to register with Rent Smart Wales. You also need to be licensed yourself if you are a ‘self-managing’ landlord, or you will need to use a licensed agent.
Licensed landlords and agents have a duty to abide by a Code of Practice as part of their licence conditions.
Tenancy deposit protection
If you ask for a tenancy deposit from your tenant it will need to be protected through a government-backed scheme.
Access to a property
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out landlords’ rights to access a property where they have relevant repair responsibilities. Under this legislation landlords (or people authorised by them) have the right to access the property for the purpose of viewing its condition and state of repair.
Access can only be at reasonable times of the day and you must give the tenant(s) at least 24 hours’ notice in writing.
If a tenant refuses to allow you access to carry out the repairs they will not be in a position to complain about the property, or to claim for damages for disrepair, or for personal injury caused by the disrepair.
If the tenant’s failure to allow you access to carry out repair work results in further deterioration or damage to the property, they could be liable as a result (entitling you to deduct any additional costs incurred from their deposit).
If a particular appointment time is inconvenient, the tenant will be expected to agree to an appointment at another time. If the tenant refuses to allow access at all then you should seek legal advice.
Generally, you should be wary about entering the property when the tenant is not there. Where a tenant has given permission, but has advised they will not be at the property themselves, it is recommended that you/or the managing agent are accompanied by a witness.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
If you are the landlord of a HMO it is likely that you will have extra management responsibilities you will need to meet.
Find guidance on our houses in multiple occupation licensing and management page.
The Housing Act 2004 places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify hazards and to assess tenants’ risks to health and safety. Local authorities are required to use a system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System to identify and assess risks.
Although not a general legal obligation, landlords should identify and risk-assess health and safety hazards at their properties and take remedial action where necessary.
Under Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 you have a duty of care to any person who might be affected by a defect, ‘to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that they are reasonably safe from personal injury or from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect’. In this case the premises means the whole of the letting - including gardens, patios and walls, as well as communal areas of estates or multi-occupancy buildings (including lifts, rubbish chutes, stairs and corridors).
Repairs and maintenance
If your tenant has a short lease tenancy agreement (for less than seven years) then you are responsible for keeping the following in repair:
- the structure and exterior of the dwelling
- the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation
- the installations for the supply of space heating and water heating
- the communal areas and installations associated with the dwelling (section 11 as amended), where these are controlled by the landlord
As a landlord you must make sure that the gas supply and appliances provided in a property are:
- in a safe condition
- fitted or repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer
You are required by regulations to ensure that all gas appliances are adequately maintained and that a safety check is carried out at least once every 12 months by a registered gas engineer. You must also provide a copy of the gas safety record to any new tenant when they move in, or to an existing tenant(s) within 28 days of a safety check.
As a landlord you are required by law to make sure that:
- the electrical installation (such as sockets and fittings) in the property is safe when a tenancy begins
- the electrical installation is maintained in a safe condition throughout a tenancy
- any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE marking (the manufacturer’s claim that it meets all the requirements of European law)
- a periodic inspection is carried out by a suitably qualified person at least every five years if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation and that you obtain the certificate showing the results of the test
As a landlord your fire safety responsibilities mean you must:
- provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove)
- check that your tenants can access escape routes at all times
- provide and maintain fire alarms and extinguishers in accordance with the prescribed standards for the specific type of property
Fire safety in HMOs
Fire safety within HMOs is covered by the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that gives powers to Fire and Rescue Authorities to enforce fire safety in the common areas in certain types of HMOs.
In practice a protocol exists that means that local authorities generally take on the responsibility for enforcement, following consultation with the fire authority. Under this legislation the responsible person must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.
Furniture and furnishings
As a landlord if you provide furniture/furnishings in accommodation you are renting out you are required to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).
All furniture (except furniture made before 1950) included in accommodation must meet all the fire resistance requirements.
The regulations set out the fire resistance requirements for upholstered furniture, which include making sure that:
- furniture meets a cigarette resistance test
- cover fabric, whether for use in permanent or loose covers, meeting a match resistance test
- filling materials for all furniture meeting ignitability tests
Tenancies that started before 1993 are exempt from the regulations, but all additional or replacement furniture added after 1993 must comply with fire resistance requirements.
Contact our Environmental Health team
Tel: 01978 292040 (please contact us via email unless you have an urgent enquiry, for example concerns about illegal eviction).