Are Landlord Inspections Legal?

Property inspections can be a thorny issue. Just as no tenant particularly enjoys their home being nosed around, no landlord really enjoys walking among another person’s home – especially if they have concerns about the property.

Nevertheless, inspections are a necessary aspect of renting. Not only do they give the landlord peace of mind, they also give tenants an opportunity to highlight any issues that have cropped up, and make requests for maintenance. Indeed, there may even be some issues with the property that a tenants would never spot, and which require the prior knowledge and keen eye of the landlord.

As a landlord, it’s important that you understand the legal situation around property inspections. Read on to find out whether landlord inspections are legal, and the responsibilities of both landlord and tenants.

Are landlord inspections legal

Landlord’s property inspection rights

First, it’s crucial to remember that tenants have the right to ‘live undisturbed’. In practice, this means that you can’t come and go as you please. However, landlords also have the legal right to inspect their property for damage and to spot necessary upkeep. How else can you be expected to ensure that the property is safe and habitable? In order to stay on the right side of the law, there are a few things you need to remember.

Giving notice of a property inspection

UK rental law states that a landlord must give 24 hours’ notice to tenants before they seek to enter the property either in order to inspect it or to empty a fuel slot meter if one is installed. The notice must be given at a time and manner in which it is realistic that tenants will receive it – and the requested entry time also has to be reasonable, so no 11pm inspections even if you are a night owl. You should make sure that the 24 hour clause is written into your tenancy agreements in order that all parties understand the process. The only exception to this is in the case of a genuine emergency, for example a fire in the property; a gas smell; or structural damage that must be attended to immediately.

Entering a tenanted house unaccompanied

Often tenants will request that they be present for any inspection, or in general any time that a landlord or estate agent enters the property. For that reason it is recommended that, if requested, a landlord should compromise on finding an inspection time when a tenant is available at the property. As with all your dealings with tenants, it’s important to remember that it is always beneficial to act in a manner that encourages a good relationship between the two parties.

What if a tenant refuses access?

The tenant has a right to refuse access if they wish. Remember that you are granting the tenant the right to live in the property as their home, and as such you are not entitled to enter the property as and when you please. It is common for tenants to refuse access when they will not be present, as discussed above. However, if the tenant is refusing to allow you to inspect the property at all, they will be in breach of the tenancy agreement. In this case you should seek legal advice, and you may need to secure a court order to gain access. You should never attempt to enter a property when access has been refused.

Frequency of property inspections

How often a landlord requests access for inspections can become a bone of contention with tenants. Too few and it can lead some to feel the property is being neglected, especially if issues have been raised in the past. Too many, however, and the tenants can begin to feel harassed. At the beginning of a tenancy, an inspection every three to four months will usually suit both parties, but you may well consider reducing the frequency as the tenancy continues.

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