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GloomMonger

Letting Agent Inspection Without My Consent

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I began a new tenancy at the beginning of March. I received an email from them last week asking for an inspection and at the bottom of the letter it states "If we do not hear from you, we will assume that the above mentioned date is convenient." I replied to say it wasn't convenient and to rearrange it. I didn't receive a confirmation back. So we returned from holiday on Friday morning and at 11am the letting agent knocked on the door for the inspection. I went ballistic. It turns out this is the second inspection. We didn't receive the first email (or lost in Spam) and they let themselves in and did the inspection back in April without our explicit consent.

I'm thinking about changing the locks, but is there anything else I should do?

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Get an attack dog and train it to go after the scent of hair gel?

I almost turned into an attack dog when I saw her. Is it legal for them to assume entry when they don't get a reply to the email. I have insisted on a written letter in future. I loathe renting, treated like a servile loser.

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I started a long thread about this: http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/138346-a-landlords-right-of-access/page-1 Opinions on my views ranged from "brilliant" to "a load of old bull" so you can decide for yourself.

If you get that far, you will see that I quote a barrister who said: "Provided you [i.e.a landlord] act reasonably and don’t enter when they [i.e. the tenants] are there and you are acting under a right in the lease or under statute, then you don’t commit a crime or a trespass."

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Thanks for the response Damocles. I haven't read through the whole thread but I understand what you're saying. It appears to come down to reasonableness. I would have thought it would be reasonable to actually make an effort to make contact with the tenants rather than an email 48 hours before with a condition that no response is taken as permission to enter. It does seem that tenancy laws are rather vague and open to interpretation.

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It appears to come down to reasonableness.

Sort of.

If:

· the terms of the tenancy allow access and the purpose specified is reasonable;

· the landlord complies with any condition(s) attached to the right of entry;

· the landlord complies with the conditions and, without causing any damage, enters while the premises are unoccupied or reasonably believes they are;

· the landlord is otherwise acting reasonably;

then, whatever the tenant feels about it, the landlord is not acting unreasonably. The point is that the landlord has authority to enter because it has been given to him by the tenant under the terms of the tenancy; he does not need to ask for permission.

How the landlord goes about making inspections is quite a different matter. Peremptory announcements of an inspection do not go down well and can suggest that the landlord has no respect for the tenant's privacy. Far better to start off by asking for an appointment and keeping the rights granted by the terms of the tenancy in reserve if the tenant fails to co-operate.

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Seems the barrister has a LL skewed view of life and the law.

That does not follow. It is a lawyer's duty to say it as he sees it. You may, if you read the first post in the thread I refer to above, form the view that I have an LL skewed view of life and the law. Such a conclusion would be quite wrong.

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So it appears they did carry out our first inspection without our knowledge or consent. There's little I can do about but at least after my furious outburst they have apologised and are being very courteous. This is the second time I have had trouble with a landlord/agent and it seems they will walk all over you unless you make it very clear that it might be their house but it's your home.

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they will walk all over you unless you make it very clear that it might be their house but it's your home.

This is indeed very often the case. However, it is important to know what rights each party has.

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Until there is case law we just don't know for sure "what rights each party has"

The legal opinions I gained when asking the question made that clear plus they gave an opinion that the LL or their agent didn't have the right of entry for anything other than an emergency. So not all lawyers agree. The legislation and individual AST's can be read in such a way to give the tenant more protection. Even the Barristers opinion that you quote can be read several ways.

Until we get the two lawyers with differing opinions into court and have an actual judgement we have very little to base this discussion on.

Edited by Flopsy

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Until there is case law we just don't know for sure "what rights each party has"

Whilst I may one day be confounded by the Court of Appeal, I think that that is better put as:

We have no guidance from the courts as to precisely how any of the standard rights of entry found in leases may be exercised.

The question to ask is: If a right of entry is reserved by a tenancy agreement and the right is reasonable on what grounds can the tenant revoke the consent he has given? The answer usually offered is that a tenancy gives the tenant the right to exclusive possession and/or that the landlord gives a covenant for quite enjoyment. The right to exclusive possession is not absolute. That is easily shown because it is quite clearly the case that on the grant of a tenancy the landlord may reserve easements and other rights over the property let. There is clear judicial authority for the proposition that the covenant for quiet enjoyment is not absolute; whether it is breached is a question of degree.

There is no statute which makes any of the usual rights of entry void or unenforceable. Indeed, in certain cases rights of entry are implied by law: section 11(6) LTA 1985; section 16 HA 1988; Mint v Good. There is no statute which expressly circumscribes any of the standard rights of entry. It is sometimes asserted that a landlord must get a court order. That necessarily implies that the right must exist as the court has no power to grant a right where none exists. If the right exists it must be enforceable in at least some form without the authority of the court.

All rights are circumscribed by two principles:

· They must be exercised reasonably

· They must be exercised so as not to cause injury to persons or damage to property or so as to risk a breach of the peace.

Given all the above, it is difficult to see how the barrister's assertion can be refuted. With respect, I cannot see how the assertion can be read in more than one way.

The idea that a tenant has an absolute right to refuse a landlord entry has been so widely disseminated across the internet that is is difficult to persuade people that it is not, or if you prefer may not be, the case.

As I have said, my main reason for getting into this question is to warn tenants that they run the risk of paying damages or costs if they refuse access where they have agreed to it in the tenancy agreement. In practice the risk may not be great, but it is still there.

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I would argue that entry for a quarterly inspection without explicit permission from the tenant is unreasonable regardless of the tenancy agreement. Entry for emergencies a different matter.

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