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Landlords have rights, and tenants have rights. But there are clear rules about when a landlord can entry their buy-to-let property during a tenancy and when they cannot, and these should be demystified. It's important that landlords are aware of the legalities surrounding this issue. 

A landlord's right of entry 
A landlord cannot legally enter a property without prior agreement from the tenant. According to the Housing Act 1988, a landlord must give 'reasonable notice' - 24 hours' notice at least – before entering the property. This is true regardless of what it may say in the tenancy agreement. Naturally, visits should also be made at a reasonable time in the day, and the tenant can choose whether or not they would like to be there when the landlord visits the property.  

If repairs need to be carried out or something needs to be inspected, then the landlord must notify the tenant and the tenant grant access before the landlord can enter the property.  

Landlords are obliged to keep a rental property in a state of good repair. This includes having to carry out gas safety checks, fixing boilers or other appliances. So, entry to the property will be needed at certain times to carry out such checks and repairs.  
 
Rights of entry in an emergency
A landlord can only enter a property without prior permission from the tenant in the event of an emergency. Such a scenario might be a suspected gas leak, a leaking pipe, structural problems, or a fire. The only time the landlord has right of entry to the property is in an emergency, where 'reasonable access' is permitted.  

Harassment
If a landlord – or someone acting on behalf of the landlord – enters the property without permission from the tenant, they can be accused of harassment and prosecuted. The Housing Act 1988 partly defines harassment as an act which is likely 'to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household'.   

Landlord-tenant relationship
You may be wondering whether these strict rights of entry are necessary if you, as a landlord, have a good relationship with your tenant. In this case, you should still give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice when requesting access, as this is the law, but you might do so more informally, such as via text or a quick phone call. Always remain aware that it is illegal for any landlord to enter the property without permission from the tenant first.  

It's important that both tenants and landlords understand the law surrounding rights of entry, as this should help ensure the tenancy runs smoothly.  

If you need more advice or are looking to let property in Bermondsey, Borough, London Bridge, Shad Thames or the surrounding SE1 area, find out about our services for landlords.