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My Right To Refuse Access For Refurbishment During My Notice Period

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Hi

I hope I can get some advice on what I suspect many of you will consider a strange request.

I am a private tenant and have been in a property for the last 13 years. I've never bothered the landlord and they've never bothered me. I have "An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement" which I signed 13 years ago.

I've never asked them to repair anything - if there has been a problem I just got a plumber or whatever in to fix things. The landlord has hardly ever visited (which suits me).

I have now decided to move on and have given my two months notice and the landlord says he wants immediate access to redecorate and refurbish the place.

In fact I received an email this week saying he was arriving the next day to do work citing health and safety, insurance and damage limitation reasons. I don't believe any of these really are issues. They didn't arrive.

I've asked him to wait until I move out before he does his work but he says he won't do that.

I feel that after 13 years, having been what most people would describe as a model tenant, I'm not being treated fairly. Obviously I would much prefer not to have the inconvenience of any work being carried whilst I am in the property.

Where do I stand here? Is it unreasonable for me to ask the landlord to wait until I've left to carry out the work or I have to acquiesce?

If he says we're coming round in two weeks and I say you can't, what happens then?

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thank you.

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Find out exactly what is so desperate now? Tell him to wait because you lived with the alleged problems for so long they cannot be that urgent. I am a landlord but i have to say he is being a bit of a prat here.

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Unless you can agree between you the terms for the refurbishment then only the courts can decide this. We have had argument over argument on this forum on the same topic. There just isn't the case law on record for us to rely on and the "right to quiet enjoyment" isn't accepted by LL's who want access for non-urgent reasons.

I imagine that as you as such an old tenant then your bond will not be held wtih any agency? Just something to make clear before you decide how to proceed.

It's down to a battle of wills and can last for longer then 2 months if your LL decides to keep your bond.

It's not reaonable (in my opinion) for the LL to decide to disrupt and steal the last 2 months of your tenancy by ripping the place apart and making parts of it unusable. It may be that he is just bluffing due to his failure to turn up.

My own sorry sagas have ended in the small claims court. on more than one occassion. A LL wanted to keep the bond due to the lack of access to potential buyers which he claimed had cost him money. I submitted the schedule of visits I kept plus emails and letters from a solicitor he hired to hassass me. The LL was laughed out of court. The magistrate found that the LL had breached our right to "peaceful enjoyment" and been unreasonable. I didn't counter-sue or anything because physically and mentally I could do no further.

The problem is that we have little case law to rely on. Your 13 years as a model tenant would probably be in your favour if you needed to go to the small claims court. I've found the process works for me but you need to consider if your LL actually has the money and would you be likely to see it again.

Consider getting him to put as much in writing. Ask for him to specifiy what he intends to do, what will be unusable due to this and how he intends to compensate you for loss of facilities whilst he does this. Then keep everything, if he calls to harrass you make a note of it in a book with details, collect witnesses if you can. Took photos of any areas in dispute.

Good luck! Hopefully others will have better advice.

Edited by Flopsy

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Thank you for your replies.

I'm not even too worried about the bond, if it is retained I'd pursue that separately later.

I'm just not sure what happens when the LL says "tough, the work has to be done and I'm coming next week" - I'm not sure how I should reply to that. Whether I am allowed to say "no you can't do the work until I leave".

To be honest I'm genuinely saddened by the LL actions and I never envisaged this outcome after all these years. To me it makes much more sense to do all the work once the place is empty. I think perhaps they're short of cash .

Thanks again for your replies

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Thank you for your replies.

I'm not even too worried about the bond, if it is retained I'd pursue that separately later.

I'm just not sure what happens when the LL says "tough, the work has to be done and I'm coming next week" - I'm not sure how I should reply to that. Whether I am allowed to say "no you can't do the work until I leave".

To be honest I'm genuinely saddened by the LL actions and I never envisaged this outcome after all these years. To me it makes much more sense to do all the work once the place is empty. I think perhaps they're short of cash .

Thanks again for your replies

I will tell you what happens when the landlord says "tough, the work has to be done and I'm coming next week" you say "no you aren't and as the legal occupier i am informing you that if i find you in my property without permission I am going to call the police"

He basically has ZERO rights to do this work, he can arrange a mutually acceptable time to make repairs but you can just make sure no time is acceptable to you, given it doesn't sound like he has done anything with the place for years and you haven't highlighted a problem hes got no reason to say they are needed

Refuse access!! Don't even bother worrying about the right to quiet enjoyment, you are the legal occupier, you have the legal right to refuse access to anyone other than a legally appointed officer (e.g a policeman) and even then they need permission from higher up to force access

Edited by Rozza

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There has been a lot of discussion in this forum about whether and if so to what extent a landlord can enter premises. This case though is clear cut. The landlord has no right to enter to refurbish.

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There has been a lot of discussion in this forum about whether and if so to what extent a landlord can enter premises. This case though is clear cut. The landlord has no right to enter to refurbish.

Blimey, we agree for once :)

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Thank you for your replies.

I'm not even too worried about the bond, if it is retained I'd pursue that separately later.

I'm just not sure what happens when the LL says "tough, the work has to be done and I'm coming next week" - I'm not sure how I should reply to that. Whether I am allowed to say "no you can't do the work until I leave".

To be honest I'm genuinely saddened by the LL actions and I never envisaged this outcome after all these years. To me it makes much more sense to do all the work once the place is empty. I think perhaps they're short of cash .

Thanks again for your replies

Apparently nice people can turn real nasty when money is at stake. Our last landlord did. I too was a reliable tenant for 5 years who never complained and he still stole all of our deposit.

Who knows what twisted thoughts are going through their mind? Probably sees it as revenge for you not continuing to pay them for what they are entitled to.

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Thanks everyone for your replies.

It sounds pathetic but until I read your comments and other threads on this forum this matter was causing me sleeplessness nights and great worry. I'm a very private person and the thought of having workers in and out all the time is a nightmare for me. However, I feel quite emboldened following your responses because I now feel as if I have more control than I ever envisaged with regard to what happens over the next few weeks .

I never actually realised the power that lies with a tenant regarding what a LL can and cannot do.

I don't want to publish the emails I received on a public forum, but having read through several threads here I suspect they fall within the definition of harassment.

I don't think the LL is a bad person, just delusional. I think as StainlessSteelCat has intimated my removal of their "guaranteed" source of income has probably caused them to go into a spin in an attempt to replace it with no interruption.

Thanks again

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Refurbishment? Not Repairs?

So long as it's not the latter he's legless.

I'm not sure how to define repair as opposed to refurbishment. For example there is a crack in the plaster which has been there since I moved in. It looks bad but it is cosmetic not structural. Is that classed as repair or refurbishment?

What is the difference in terms of the LL's ability to demand access?

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There isnt one catch all rule, but you would be pretty safe to assume anything that is long term can be safely ignored, repairs is really for anything which could cause the actual property to be unsafe or unhabitable (broken boiler, water pipe etc) - so structural stuff mostly

From what you have said so far, he basically wants to refurbish, and you can (and by the sounds of it should) tell him to get stuffed. If he had been reasonable about it i might say otherwise but he wants to have his cake and eat it

Edited by Rozza

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If workmen go in and when they leave the property has been restored to the state it would have been in had there been no wants of repair (allowable upgrading being ignored) then the work was "repairs". If when they leave the property is different to what it would have been had there been no wants of repair (allowable upgrading being ignored) then the works were "refurbishment". By "allowable upgrading" I mean replacing something which needs replacing with something better where only something better is available or something better is the generally accepted standard.

So:

Replacing sound if tired windows with any sort of new window is refurbishment.

Replacing single glazed windows with rotten frames with any sort of new window including double glazing is a repair.

Replacing an old fashioned but serviceable bath with any new bath is refurbishment.

Replacing a broken old-fashioned bath with a jacuzzi is refurbishment.

Replacing a broken old-fashioned bath with the modern equivalent is a repair.

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Just when I thought it was all becoming clearer .....

So do you think fixing a crack in the wall (filling it and sanding it etc.) is a repair or a refurbishment?

It's an unsightly crack but experts from the management company for the block of flats looked at it a couple of years ago and I was told it was not a structural problem.

If it is a repair does it mean I have to allow "immediate" access?

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The first port of call is your tenancy agreement. If it sets out on what terms the landlord can have access then that is what applies, subject to reasonableness (though not everyone agrees on what is reasonable and the extent to which the tenant is required to allow access). In the absence of any provision, and in any event, section 19 of the Housing Act 1988 applies:

It shall be an implied term of every assured tenancy that the tenant shall afford to the landlord access to the dwelling-house let on the tenancy and all reasonable facilities for executing therein any repairs which the landlord is entitled to execute.

The Act does not define "repairs which the landlord is entitled to execute" so we have to resort to the general law. If I remember correctly, the common law provides that a landlord is entitled to carry out repairs which he is under an obligation to carry out.

The next question therefore is whether the landlord has an obligation to carry out any particular repair. Assuming the tenancy agreement is silent, section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 applies. That section requires a landlord to repair the structure. I do not think we need to enquire whether the crack is structural because you have been told that it is not. The landlord cannot decline to effect a repair on the grounds that it is non-structural and then later, because it suits his convenience, insist that it is structural.

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Just when I thought it was all becoming clearer .....

So do you think fixing a crack in the wall (filling it and sanding it etc.) is a repair or a refurbishment?

It's an unsightly crack but experts from the management company for the block of flats looked at it a couple of years ago and I was told it was not a structural problem.

If it is a repair does it mean I have to allow "immediate" access?

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Realistically, are you going to need anything from this LL again (e.g. a reference)? If not (e.g. you're leaving to buy a home), then you have little to lose in using the nuclear option, i.e. telling him in no uncertain terms to stay away until the tenancy is up, and to expect the Tony Martin treatment if he doesn't.

Edit: I'd speculate that the reason why he's hell bent on refurbishing before your tenancy is up is because he can't afford a void, and suspects that he'll be unable to let the property again in its current state.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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You want a decent agent.

When I gave notice on the current place, the agent wrote a form letter saying they might want to show prospective new tenants around in my last month. In practice, they've done no such thing. Indeed, haven't even advertised. I think they understand the marketing benefits of an empty flat over the chaos of boxes in a flat someone is moving out of.

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Just for the record, the question raised in this thread is quite different from the usual one of whether, and if so to what extent, a landlord may enter to inspect, repair or show the property to prospective tenants, buyers, lenders or their surveyors. There is no right for a landlord to have access to refurbish. Any unauthorised entry for that purpose is a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment and/or a derogation from grant.

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Just when I thought it was all becoming clearer .....

So do you think fixing a crack in the wall (filling it and sanding it etc.) is a repair or a refurbishment?

It's an unsightly crack but experts from the management company for the block of flats looked at it a couple of years ago and I was told it was not a structural problem.

If it is a repair does it mean I have to allow "immediate" access?

IMO the point is that you have not asked for these things to be done and they are not a health hazard - the LL only wants to do them (having done nothing of the sort for 13 years) because he wants the place looking spick and span for viewings and in order to have as short a void as possible. After 13 years without a void period he cannot complain if he's going to have to go a few weeks without rent.

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Well I think Round 1 is over. The LL has agreed that any work will take place after I've gone. He didn't talk to me about this, just sent an email. However in the same email he did request we come to an agreement on some form of compensation for him. I have ignored this request.

Round 2 is now under way. LL needs to do an inventory check (against the 13 year old list produced by the original letting agent) and has said do not throw anything out that belongs to him. As the major appliances wore out I bought my own (washer, TV, Microwave) and I planned to take them with me when I leave. I disposed of the old stuff. The LL knows this (but I have nothing in writing). I suspect he will say "Oh my gosh where is my stuff" and use that as an excuse to, at the very least, withhold my bond of one month rent. In my opinion, this guy is desperate to get his compensation one way or another

I have one final payment of rent to make (I was on 2 months notice). I'm not sure what to do.

Pay the rent and if I don't get my bond back (I'm sure I won't get it back) take action to recover it;

Not pay the rent and have him try to recover it from me.

What do you think I should do?

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Round 2 is now under way. LL needs to do an inventory check (against the 13 year old list produced by the original letting agent) and has said do not throw anything out that belongs to him. As the major appliances wore out I bought my own (washer, TV, Microwave) and I planned to take them with me when I leave. I disposed of the old stuff. The LL knows this (but I have nothing in writing). I suspect he will say "Oh my gosh where is my stuff" and use that as an excuse to, at the very least, withhold my bond of one month rent. In my opinion, this guy is desperate to get his compensation one way or another

I have one final payment of rent to make (I was on 2 months notice). I'm not sure what to do.

Pay the rent and if I don't get my bond back (I'm sure I won't get it back) take action to recover it;

Not pay the rent and have him try to recover it from me.

First you need to decide how much the loss of the amount of the bond would cause you. If its only a small amount it may not be worth the potential upset and aggravation. I am sure there are some who would as a matter of principal fight tooth and nail over any amount however small.

Pragmatically I would not pay the last months rent and let the landlord deduct it from the deposit. The word bond was used in a reply, you haven't said whether you paid a security deposit. I take the word bond to mean an assurance by you to pay up to the amount of the bond or for a third party to pay it on your behalf and then seek recovery from you. To me a bond implies that you haven't handed over the cash.

He will then have to decide whether to pursue you through the courts to attempt recovery and assess how a court would view the matter. If he decided to take action it would be on the small claims track and I really can't see that a judge would decide in his favour.

As regards the disposal of the old appliances, well in the final analysis the question is what compensation would a court award for the loss of those items. In my opinion the value awarded would be the market value of those items. 13 year old washing machine? £0 I guess, a 13 year old microwave? £0 I guess, a 13 year old TV? £0 I guess.

Although the landlord may be peeved that he has to replace all those items in one go, with another tenant he would have had to pay for them to be replaced, probably more than once, over your lengthy tenancy. In reality he is not really out of pocket, in fact you may well have paid for a large proportion of his flat anyway.

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First you need to decide how much the loss of the amount of the bond would cause you. If its only a small amount it may not be worth the potential upset and aggravation. I am sure there are some who would as a matter of principal fight tooth and nail over any amount however small.

Pragmatically I would not pay the last months rent and let the landlord deduct it from the deposit. The word bond was used in a reply, you haven't said whether you paid a security deposit. I take the word bond to mean an assurance by you to pay up to the amount of the bond or for a third party to pay it on your behalf and then seek recovery from you. To me a bond implies that you haven't handed over the cash.

He will then have to decide whether to pursue you through the courts to attempt recovery and assess how a court would view the matter. If he decided to take action it would be on the small claims track and I really can't see that a judge would decide in his favour.

As regards the disposal of the old appliances, well in the final analysis the question is what compensation would a court award for the loss of those items. In my opinion the value awarded would be the market value of those items. 13 year old washing machine? £0 I guess, a 13 year old microwave? £0 I guess, a 13 year old TV? £0 I guess.

Although the landlord may be peeved that he has to replace all those items in one go, with another tenant he would have had to pay for them to be replaced, probably more than once, over your lengthy tenancy. In reality he is not really out of pocket, in fact you may well have paid for a large proportion of his flat anyway.

Hi sleepwello'nights

Sorry, I used the wrong terminology. It was a "Security Deposit" I paid before I moved in, 13 years ago, which was equal to one months rent.

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I have one final payment of rent to make (I was on 2 months notice). I'm not sure what to do.

Pay the rent and if I don't get my bond back (I'm sure I won't get it back) take action to recover it;

Not pay the rent and have him try to recover it from me.

What do you think I should do?

I'd pay the rent and play hardball if he doesn't return all the deposit. After 13 years "fair wear and tear" pretty much covers everything bar burning down the house.

Also have you signed any kind of renewal since April 2007? If so then your deposit should be protected in one of the schemes. If not your landlord is in trouble...

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/tenancy_deposit_protection_schemes#a_landlord%27s_duty_to_protect_a_tenant%27s_deposit

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I'd pay the rent and play hardball if he doesn't return all the deposit. After 13 years "fair wear and tear" pretty much covers everything bar burning down the house.

Also have you signed any kind of renewal since April 2007? If so then your deposit should be protected in one of the schemes. If not your landlord is in trouble...

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/tenancy_deposit_protection_schemes#a_landlord%27s_duty_to_protect_a_tenant%27s_deposit

To be on the safe side I'd definitely not pay the last months rent if you suspect the landlord will keep your deposit. In this case it seems like a no brainer. The landlord cannot be trusted and will try to withhold the deposit. He will no doubt make a song and dance about it but in the end will accept the situation without taking it further.

I have withheld the deposit in 3 out of the past 5 rentals and the only consequence was that I didn't have the hassle of trying to recover money in the small claims court.

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