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12 Oct 2011 : Column 5P

Petition

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Observations

Communities and Local Government

Access by Landlords

The Petition of a resident of Norwich,

Declares that at present there are no laws or guidelines to prevent landlords appearing outside tenants’ homes or undertaking disruptive work at any hour; considers that landlords are in effect on tenants’ premises when in the communal hallways of properties that have been divided into flats and bedsits; and further declares that this interferes with a tenant’s “right to peacefully and privately enjoy”, in accordance with the standard contract. The Petition also declares that, although working patterns vary, evenings and weekends should not be interrupted by landlords to enable tenants to enjoy privacy in their homes; noting that, as landlords often collect money for doing nothing, it is doubly unfair not to show respect for those to whom they have a duty of care as well as a business relationship.


The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to restrict landlords’ access to their rented properties in the following ways: (1) other than in the case of an emergency, landlords and their agents should not be inside [or by] tenanted properties before 8am and after 7pm on weekdays; at weekends; or on bank holidays; (2) prospective tenants should only be shown around between 10am and 8pm, tenants would not be expected to comply with requests for viewings of their homes outside these hours; and (3) tenants must be notified of works to be carried out on adjoining properties, particularly in the case of flats in a single property.

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And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Official Report, 11 August 2011; Vol. 531, c. 13P.]

[P000954]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The law already provides protection for tenants in respect of their right to decide who may enter their home and their right to quiet enjoyment of their property. A tenant has the right to exclude the landlord from the premises that are let to the tenant, unless the landlord is exercising the limited rights to enter reserved to the landlord in the tenancy agreement. Other than when the landlord is exercising those rights, it is for the tenant to determine if and when the landlord may enter the property. The common parts of a building divided into flats are not, however, the tenants’ property.

In addition, in every tenancy agreement, there is an implied or contractual covenant of quiet enjoyment. Where work carried out by the landlord interferes with the tenants’ use or lawful enjoyment of the property, the tenant may be able to claim for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or for private nuisance. In a successful claim for breach of covenant or private nuisance, the tenant may be entitled to an injunction and/or damages.

The limitations proposed in the petition, including restricting landlords’ access before 8am and after 7pm on weekdays and on weekends or bank holidays, may well be impracticable given that many landlords will themselves be working full time in another job. Likewise, tenants who work may also prefer to allow the landlord access outside of normal working hours, when they can be in the property.

The Government believe that the current legislative framework strikes the right balance between the rights of landlords and tenants, and that more restrictive legislation could result in fewer homes available to rent. This would not help either potential tenants or landlords. The Government are, therefore, not seeking to make significant changes to the current framework, although will keep this under continuing consideration.