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Being a landlord

Landlord and tenant rights

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Just as the landlord and tenant have certain responsibilities or obligation in terms of the duties that they must perform in relation to the property, so too do they have certain rights that are protected by law:

Landlord rights
You or your agent are allowed access to the property for two main purposes, both of which are usually detailed in the tenancy agreement:

  • Conduct visual reports. Most landlords or agents will wish to gain access to the property every three to four months, in order to monitor its condition and to ensure that the tenants are abiding by the terms of their tenancy agreement. To be able to gain access for the purposes of inspection, you must give at least 24 hours written notice.
  • To show the property to prospective tenants. You will normally insert a clause into the tenancy agreement giving you the right to gain access to the property at reasonable times of the day to show prospective new tenants around, if the current tenants are not renewing or extending their tenancy. Again, there will normally be a stipulation that you give fair notice of any appointments, usually 24 hours. Procedures for gaining access to the property should be included in the tenancy agreement.

Under the Rent Act of 1977, you have the right to seek possession of your property under any of 17 assorted legal grounds. You cannot evict the tenant without a possession order from the court. Find out more about this.

Tenant rights
The tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of the property for the duration of the tenancy along with the legal right to live in property as if it was their own home. This means that they have the right to a peaceful existence without undue disturbance. Harassment is a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and may result in the landlord being fined, or even imprisoned in extreme cases. Harassment can take the form of:

  • Entering the property without permission.
  • Changing the locks without giving the tenant warning or new keys.
  • Cutting off utilities such as gas water and electricity.
  • Tampering with mail or possessions.
  • Verbal or physical abuse or threats.
  • Enter the tenant's home whilst the they are out.
  • Neglect the property that the tenant is renting. If the landlord fails to carry out obligatory repairs, the tenant may carry out the work and deduct is cost from the rent.
  • Prevent the tenant's friends from visiting.

If you sell the freehold, the tenant will retain any rights to remain in the property, as the tenancy will be binding on the purchaser. The tenants are then referred to as 'sitting tenants'.

Matters such as whether the tenant can keep pets are at your discretion, but you should set out any conditions you impose in the tenancy agreement.

People often talk about squatters rights. Whilst a certain legal status can be obtained in some circumstances through squatting, tenants who squat will almost certainly end up being evicted from the property, so long as the landlord can prove he is the rightful owner and has grounds for obtaining possession of the property. However, evicting squatters can be a time consuming, expensive and frustrating experience for landlords.

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