It is in fact illegal for a landlord or agent to enter the premises without permission from the tenant. Ultimately, a landlord has no right of entry unless the tenant grants access or the landlord is given permission by the courts.
The office of fair trading document oft356 reads as follows:
3.32 We would object to a provision giving the landlord an excessive right to enter the rented property. Under any kind of lease or tenancy, a landlord is required by common law to allow his tenants ‘exclusive possession’ and ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the premises during the tenancy. In other words, tenants must be free from unwarranted intrusion by anyone, including the landlord. Landlords are unfairly disregarding that basic obligation if they reserve a right to enter the property without giving reasonable notice or getting the tenant’s consent, except for good reason.
Irrespective of what maybe written in the agreed contract between a landlord and a tenant (e.g. a clause that states the landlord is allowed to enter the property without permission), it is still the tenant’s statutory right to live in quiet enjoyment, therefore any clauses that conflicts with that right will not be legally enforceable.
A landlord (or anyone acting on behalf e.g. agent) does have the right to ‘reasonable’ access to carry out repairs for which they are responsible, but a written notice at least 24 hours must be served and then the tenant must grant access.
Section 11 does make it clear that if there is an emergency the landlord can enter without permission. That is the only exception as far as I am aware. Section 11, however, does not specify what constitutes an “emergency”, but I’ve always been under the impression that it’s something glaringly obvious and disruptive, like a fire or a heavily leaking/burst pipe.
Tenants have the right to live without unnecessary interference from the landlord, and also prevent them or anyone on behalf of the landlord from entering the premises. If a landlord disregards the law and enters the property without permission, they could be prosecuted for “harassment”
The law that sets out the definition of harassment in this context is the Protection from Eviction Act 1977::
The landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if—
(a) he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or
(b) he persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises in question as a residence,
and (in either case) he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.
The important takeaway for landlords, just because you don’t believe your actions to be a form of harassment, it doesn’t mean that the law would agree with you. So be diligent.
Some of the most common complaints of landlord harassment that I hear about are as follows:
- My landlords keeps calling me for rent
- My landlord wants an inspection every month, it’s too much
- My landlord keeps threatening to throw me out unless I pay rent
- My landlord keeps entering the property without my permission
In reality, it can often be difficult to prosecute a landlord for harassment. Harassment cases are usually handled by the local authority, not the police. Most of the high damages are awarded in civil cases, where the tenant has taken the landlord to court for breaking their statutory right of Quiet Enjoyment This means that the landlord should leave tenants to live in the property in peace!
My tenant won’t allow me access
If you’re in the unfortunate possession of being refused access to your property, whether it be for a regular inspection or maintenance work, find out what options are available and what steps to take next over at the “My Tenant won’t let me into the property” blog post.
If you require legal advice on the matter, I highly recommend contacting your local Citizens Advice for free legal advice!
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.