Note: The information given below is a general oversight of a landlord's right to enter a property during an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Please note that the guidance given here is based on the wording of the most recent version of OpenRent's contract, from February 2021. Please ensure that you check the wording of your own contract carefully and seek independent legal advice where necessary.
The Concept of Quiet Enjoyment
The concept of quiet enjoyment applies to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) and means that tenants have the right to live at the property without unreasonable interference from the landlord.
If the tenancy is for a full property then quiet enjoyment will apply to the property in its entirety. If a tenant is renting an individual room then their right to quiet enjoyment applies to their own room; tenants do not of course have exclusive rights to common areas (e.g. a shared kitchen/hall space) but landlords will still normally be restricted from using or entering these areas, given that the tenants have rights to use them under the tenancy. Slightly different rules will apply for live-in landlords who take on lodgers.
Automatic Exceptions to Quiet Enjoyment
There are some circumstances in which a tenant's right to quiet to enjoyment is overridden: for example, if a landlord needs to carry out emergency works to the property (such as a boiler leak). A landlord's right to enter in these circumstances is stated in the Housing Act 1988.
Further Exceptions to Quiet Enjoyment
Most ASTs allow for landlords accessing the property outside of emergencies. Usually the contract will say that the landlord has the right to enter the property provided they give at least 24 hours' notice and enter during reasonable hours.
To permit the Landlord, and any superior landlord, or the Landlord's employees/agents at all reasonable times after giving the Tenant at least 24 hours' notice (except in an emergency):
- to enter the Premises to inspect the same and the Landlord's furniture and effects therein (if any) and to carry out any works of maintenance or repair to the Premises or elsewhere which the Landlord may consider necessary (OpenRent AST for a whole property).
This means that providing you give at least 24 hours' notice, visit during "reasonable times" for a reason outlined in your AST you should have the right to enter. Because the tenant has already agreed to the terms (by signing the contract) you shouldn't need to ask the tenant(s) to give permission again, though you should be very careful if the tenant actively refuses consent.
What to do if Your Tenant Refuses Access
If your tenant does refuse you access for any reason you should not enter the property until their permission has been given, unless in an absolute emergency. However, there are steps that you can take to resolve any issues with tenant(s) allowing you access.
1. Give as much notice as possible so that the tenants are able to prepare for/work around the visit.
2. Understand why the tenant has refused access. For example, some tenants prefer to be present when you visit, so finding an alternative date/time may resolve any issues.
3. Explain to the tenant exactly why you believe it is necessary to enter the property.
4. Explain to the tenant that there may be consequences to to not giving access; e.g. that you can't guarantee the safety of the gas boiler unless an annual gas safety check is carried out.
5. Where you are unable to reach an agreement over access you may find it necessary to get independent legal advice.
What About Viewings?
In the first instance you should check the terms laid out in your tenancy agreement. For example, the OpenRent contract requires tenants to permit viewings during the last 60 days of their tenancy (provided that the landlord gives at least 24 hours' notice and the viewings are at reasonable times).
Again, it's important to understand that a landlord can't force entry into a property so if the tenant(s) refuse to give access for a viewing you should follow the steps above.