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Allowing access to the property

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There are two main sets of circumstances that normally require you to allow either the landlord or the agent access to the property. Both of these are usually detailed in the tenancy agreement, though not always.

Visual reports
When an agent manages the property, the majority of landlords will request that the agent visually inspects the property during the course of the tenancy. This is to monitor the condition of the property and to ensure that you are abiding by the terms of your tenancy agreement.

There will be a set procedure for allowing access to the lettings agent access to the property. They will phone or write to you in advance and inform you of their intention to visit the property and the time and date at which they intend to do so. If this is inconvenient for you and you wish to be present, you should be able to rearrange the appointment.

The lettings agent or landlord should not be allowed to inspect the property without giving you due warning. However, do not assume that you can fob them off by being out when they call. They will undoubtedly have a set of keys and will have the right to inspect the property having given you fair warning of their intention.

Visual reports by lettings agents usually take place every three to four months. The inspection may be carried out by a member of staff from the lettings agent or it may be carried out by a third party wholly unrelated to the lettings agent. Either way, they will fill out a report and outline the condition of the property and indicate any defects or repair requirements.

Prospective tenants
There will often be a clause in your contract requiring you to allow the landlord or lettings agent access to the property to show prospective new tenants around the property once you have passed the point of no return in terms of renewing your tenancy agreements.

Again, there will normally be a stipulation that you be given fair notice of any appointments, usually 24 hours. This is so that you can tidy away your dirty underpants, remove the mouldy festering leftovers from the fridge, and finally get round to opening the window and giving the place some air.

The way many lettings agents work, they will often get a call in the morning and want to show the place in the afternoon. It is your right to make them wait the agreed period before allowing them access to the property, but it is not really in your interests to be too awkward when it comes to this sort of thing. The more difficult you make it for them, the more likely they are to get their own back when assessing how much of your bond money to deprive you of once you have moved out.

Things can work the other way too. We received information about a household in South London who were rewarded handsomely for helping a landlord sell his flat. They were approached and asked whether they would be interested in moving out earlier than the date agreed in their tenancy agreement, if it meant the reimbursement of three months' worth of rent. They agreed and also made sure that the place was in a really good, clean condition when prospective buyers were shown around the property. In return, the landlord not only reimbursed the rent as agreed, but also gave them a bonus for helping him achieve a higher selling price than he had anticipated!

Whilst this is unlikely to happen to you, it does show that it can pay to be cooperative!

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