Landlords are obliged by law to carry out inspections of their property’s gas and electric systems. This is to ensure that the properties are safe for their tenants.
However, amazingly some tenants refuse access – even for gas safety inspections. Even though gas can be incredibly dangerous if the appliances are not properly maintained.
Landlords also need to carry out general property inspections, at least every six months. This is to ensure that:
- There are no unauthorised occupiers – which could turn the property into an HMO making landlords liable for additional regulation and potentially liable for big penalties for non-compliance
- The tenants are not engaging in illegal behaviour – such as converting the property to a cannabis farm or using it for trafficked people
- There are no repair issues – which if unattended could get worse and become more expensive to deal with
For all these reasons, regular inspection of rented properties is now a requirement of most landlord insurance policies. Meaning that claims could be rejected if you don’t do them.
So what can landlords do?
Well, if tenants are uncooperative, landlords can’t just use their keys and go in anyway. That would be illegal and would make the landlord vulnerable to harassment claims and maybe other penalties (maybe even a claim for a rent repayment order).
The best thing is to take care in choosing tenants so this is less likely to happen in the first place. Then before tenants go into occupation, landlords (and their agents) should explain the need for inspections to them so they are less likely to object.
If tenants still object, then there are a whole raft of things you can do, depending on the circumstances, ranging from sending letters to applying for a Court Injunction (most often used for gas access situations).
Help is at hand
Hopefully, this situation will never happen to you – but if it does it may be comforting to know that there is a special Landlord Law Kit, the Property Access Kit, available that can lead you through the process and provide practical help and advice.
- An explanation of the law
- Draft letters you can adapt to your particular situation
- Dealing with criminal tenants
- Draft wording for notices
- Detailed guidance (including draft forms) for obtaining a Court Order for an injunction (prepared by housing barrister Robert Brown), and
- Help and guidance on obtaining a possession order