Landlord’s right to access: A guide for independent landlords

As a self-employed landlord, it’s important to know your rights, in terms of access to your property. Having access is essential to properly manage your investment, but overstepping your rights can lead to problems with your tenants, or even get you in trouble with the law. 

To help you with the essentials, this guide will explain a landlord’s right to access in a number of different situations by answering these questions:

  • What is a landlord’s right to access?
  • How much notice do I need to give my tenants?
  • How should I contact my tenants to request access?
  • What time of day can I access the property?
  • How often can I inspect the property?
  • Can I access the property when the tenants aren’t there?
  • Can I bring other people into the property?
  • Can my tenants refuse to give me access to the property?

This guide will strictly focus on your legal rights as a landlord. If you’d like information on financial strategy, you might be interested in our other article, “How to calculate rental yield as a private landlord”.

What is a landlord’s right to access?

In the UK, tenants are entitled to live in a property without being interfered with by landlords, letting agents, or people associated with them. This is referred to as “the right to quiet enjoyment”.

A court order can only overrule this right. That said, as a landlord, you have your own rights of access which are split into three sections:

  • Right of reasonable access.
  • Right to inspect.
  • Right to enter to provide services. 

Each of these rights still requires you to give notice to your tenants unless there’s an emergency. 

Right of reasonable access

“Reasonable access” can be pretty vague in reality, but it generally refers to situations where you need to do repairs and safety checks. 

Like we mentioned up top, you’ll still need to give your tenants notice before entering the property, unless there’s an emergency, such as:

  • A fire. 
  • A gas leak. 
  • Structural damage.
  • Criminal activity happening inside the property. 

Right to inspect

As a landlord, you’ll have the right to access your property for routine inspections. Again, you’ll have to give your tenants notice. The best way to go about this is to set up regular inspections dates with your tenants. 

Right to enter to provide services

This right only applies to you if you’ve arranged ongoing services with your tenants, like room cleaning. An arrangement like this will need to be written into your tenancy agreement, outlining prearranged dates. If this agreement is signed, you can access your property on the dates without giving notice. 

How much notice do I need to give my tenants?

Legally, you should give your tenants 24 hours’ notice before visiting your property. That said, they’ll appreciate more notice than that. 

There may be times where you have to access the property on short notice, but don’t make a habit of it, or it could hurt your relationship with your tenants. Usually, about a week is enough to prevent tenants from getting annoyed. 

How should I contact my tenants to request access?

You can get in touch with your tenants however you like. Although, you should always have some written evidence that you’ve let them know about accessing the property. 

So, even if you call to give them a heads up, always follow it up with a text, email, or letter, including the date, time, and reason for coming round. 

What time of day can I access the property?

Unless it’s an emergency, you should only visit your property during a reasonable time of the day. Again this is quite vague wording, so you should outline the specifics in your tenancy agreement, 

How often can I inspect the property?

Legally, there’s no limit to the number of times you can request access to your property. That being said, visiting too often could have a negative impact on your relationship with your tenants, and they might be able to accuse you of infringing on their rights to “quiet enjoyment”.

You should outline regular dates for inspections with your tenants in your tenancy agreement. For more information about inspections, check out our article, “How often should a landlord inspect a property”.

Can I access the property when the tenants aren’t there?

As a landlord, yes, you have the right to access your property when the tenant isn’t home, but only if you’ve asked them and they’ve given you permission. 

In cases like this, you should arrange a time and date, and stick to it, and you should only visit for the reasons you’ve given.

Can I bring other people into the property?

You’re allowed to bring other people with you to access the property, but, as above, it needs to be pre-arranged with the tenants. 

Again, you can only access the property at the date and time you’ve specified, and you have to let the tenants know exactly who you’re planning to bring with you. 

For example, you might bring letting agents, professional plumbers and electricians, or potential buyers and tenants.

When it comes to showing potential buyers or tenants, you’re only allowed to show them the property within the final 28 days of the tenancy agreement. 

Can my tenants refuse to give me access to the property?

Your tenants have the right to refuse you access to the property. Most of the time, it’ll be because the date and time doesn’t work for them and you can just rearrange the visit. 

If, for whatever reason, the tenant repeatedly denies you access, there are a few things you can do to cover yourself legally and gain access to the property. First, never try to force entry to the property. Instead, start off by taking the following actions. 

  • Let the tenant know, in writing, that they’re liable for any property problems brought about by your inability to do routine inspections and maintenance. 
  • Let them know you’re not liable for any personal harm brought about by your inability to do repairs. 

If they still don’t allow you access, you can take more severe actions like these. 

  • Apply for a court order, allowing you access to the property without their agreement.
  • Serve your tenant with an eviction notice. 

This last example is obviously a nightmare scenario for landlords. Difficult tenants can lead to loss of rent, property damage, and wasted time, so you should consider buying landlord insurance to protect you if the worst should happen.

Manage your income and expenses with free accounting software

Managing your accounts as a private landlord can be tricky, so you should consider downloading the Countingup app to make financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Find out more here.