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Can our landlord come in and out of the property as he likes?

housesHere is a question to the blog clinic from Karen (not her real name) who is a tenant

Please can you assist us with a problem we are having with our landlord. We are four sharers including two girls, we all pay our rent separately and some pay more promptly than others.

Our landlord often comes to the house unannounced to chase up late rent and on one occasion banged on bedroom doors first thing in the morning when people were still asleep. He also sends contractors with keys to let themselves in. I am one of the two girls and I am uncomfortable with strangers just walking into the house if I am on my own.

We have tried asking the landlord to give us more notice but he said it is his house and he can do what he likes. It is making us all unhappy but none of us are in a position where we can just leave and live somewhere else.

Is there anything we can do to make this stop? We have thought about changing the locks but we don’t know whether this will make things worse.

To a large extent it depends on whether you are all joint or individual tenants.  I know you say you all pay separately but did you actually sign your own separate tenancy agreements?  This is a pretty fundamental point and affects the legal rights that you have.

If you all signed the same tenancy agreement then your landlord is definitely out of order.  You should contact your local authority tenancy relations officer who should write to your landlord on your behalf.

Entering a property without the tenants consent is a criminal offence AND can entitle you to claim compensation through the courts.

If you have all signed separate tenancy agreements then it is a bit different as you only have ‘exclusive occupation’ of your own rooms and cannot exclude the landlord entirely from the common parts, as you can if you all signed the one agreement for the whole property.

Even so, if he is banging on your bedroom doors in the early morning, that sounds like harassment to me.  Again your Local Authority TRO may be able to help.  It may be the landlords house but it is subject to tenancies to you.

So far as changing the locks are concerned, if you all signed the same tenancy agreement, then this might be allowable in these circumstances.  However I don’t think you can do this otherwise.

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5 Responses to Can our landlord come in and out of the property as he likes?

  1. The point you make about access with single tenancies here, has this been tested in court?

    If the tenants have several single tenancies, but are obviously jointly and severally liable for communal areas, would it not be a reasonable conclusion that they have joint and several exclusive occupation for these same communal areas?

    Also, if this is not case, then the L/L being allowed ‘open access’ to the communal areas, could s/he therefore be included in any joint and several liability for damage etc?

  2. There was no mention either, of if the L/L has been giving the required 24hrs written notice of visits….or that even if this is given, that it does not entitle the L/L to enter if permission is denied.

    Although, from the interpretation in the article, the denied permission would only apply for joint tenancies?

  3. I don’t think the landlord can come and go as he likes in the common areas of a single tenancies HMO type property, but it is more difficult to exclude him. For example if nothing else he will need access to do up and re-let vacant rooms.

    However with a joint and several tenancy the tenants DO have the right to exclude the landlord completely, even if one of their number has moved out.

    Landlords will though almost certainly be guilty of harassment if they enter common parts in HMO / single tenancy properties inappropriately.

    Not sure I get your point about the landlord being liable for damage.

  4. I was just trying to think from too many angles…. if the common areas have free access for tenants and the L/L, then all who have this free access should be liable for anything within it.

    If the L/L has free access (which includes any contractors I take it), then simply by gaining access without notice, seems to open up a can of worms….with free access means that any damage (I use damage as an easily understood example), could possibly be denied by the tenant if the L/L or contractors have been letting themselves in and out.

  5. I think it is wise, for any L/L to give notice regardless. It covers so many things by doing this.

    It also keeps the relationship between both, far easier and friendly.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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