Inspections are a necessary part of being a landlord; after all you want know that your property is in the condition it should be and that nothing is broken or in disrepair. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause a little friction between landlords and tenants, because nobody really likes people entering their home for checks. The question is, if you don’t have an easy relationship, can the tenants ever refuse to let you enter?

The short answer is that they certainly can, but only under certain circumstances. According to the law, you have a variety of obligations to meet in order to have the right to enter and if you don’t, the tenant is perfectly entitled not to let you in. After all – it is their home and they should not be unnecessarily inconvenienced or troubled – they have what’s known as ‘exclusive possession’.

Home inspection
photo credit: Chris Potter

Your Obligations

These obligations are however quite simple and easy to meet. The first is that it must be you that enters; you can’t just hire someone else to carry out checks unless you’ve explicitly given them permission in writing, and your tenant is aware. Secondly, you can’t just come round whenever you like; you must give 24 hours of (written) notice beforehand, and the time should be reasonable. This usually means normal working hours or in the early evening. Finally, you can only inspect the condition of the property or check on repairs – you’re not allowed to go snooping for other things.

It’s all relatively straightforward, which means that if you need to inspect the property, you shouldn’t really have any trouble at all, and only unreasonable tenants will attempt to prevent you. If you’ve met all of the criteria, then you have the legal right to enter, and the only reason you wouldn’t be allowed to would be if the tenant believed you were carrying out excessive checks and were harassing them. This however, is an extreme example.

What to do in an Emergency

A final word is on emergencies. The normal rules for inspection do not apply if you have legitimate reasons to believe that someone’s safety is at risk and you need immediate access. Generally, this will include things like fires and gas leaks, but it could even be other things, such as if you suspect actual criminal activity. Remember however that the emergency services should be the ones to deal with the situation if at all possible. This is for reasons of safety, but be aware also that your landlords insurance may not cover you if you forcefully enter without notifying the police.

So there you have it. As long as you give the correct notification, you have every right to check your properties when you need to, even with tenant present.