Frequent Property Checks: A Landlord's Best Practice

A leading buy-to-let insurer are urging landlords to meet with tenants and inspect rented homes more often after finding 83 per cent of landlords have had to deal with renters who have broken tenancy agreements.

Direct Line argues landlords could pick up potential tenancy breaches if they regularly inspected the homes they rent.

The most common problems for landlords are tenants who do not keep their homes clean and do not call the landlord when repairs are needed.

Other problems tenants try to keep from landlords include damaging the home, making alterations to the property, keeping pets without permission and smoking or vaping in the home.

Research by the insurer revealed fewer than half of landlords schedule six-monthly property visits.

Deducting money from deposits

One in five landlords only check properties at the start and end of a tenancy, while 14 per cent only visit a rented home occasionally or when they suspect an issue needs attention.

Landlords mainly deal with tenancy problems by keeping (26 per cent) or deducting money from their deposit (38 per cent). One in four landlords evict the tenants, while a similar number makes the tenants correct the problem.

Sarah Casey, Landlord Product Manager at Direct Line, comments: “Property inspections shouldn’t feel intrusive for tenants and are all about building good relationships and keeping an eye out for any emerging issues. Early intervention can often stop these from developing into a bigger problem that requires landlords to take further action.

"Landlords should also make sure that tenancy deposits are held in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme to help cover costs if, for example, the tenant leaves the property in a filthy state, has broken furniture or removed property supplied by the landlord.”

Right of inspection

Landlords can visit a rented home at reasonable times.

Reasonable times mean at a time convenient to the tenant and agreed with at least 24 hours written notice unless the visit is an emergency, like a gas leak.

Reasons for a visit include checking gas and electrical safety, fixing reported issues, or fixing the problems that make the property unfit.

Visits without good reason or notice or permission can be considered harassment.

The rules are different for shared homes.

Landlords may visit at any time to check communal areas but need to give written notice to enter personal spaces.

Tenants should allow access for safety checks, repairs, or property inspections, provided the visits are at agreed times.

Fine quashed after tenant refuses entry

The First-Tier Property Tribunal has recently quashed a £3,500 fine against a landlord after hearing the tenant refused access to fix defects in a rented home (although the main reason the penalty was quashed was that the notice from the local authority did not include required information about why the fine was being imposed).

Blaby Council issued the landlord a prohibition order after visiting the home. They found a rat infestation, no back door, a lack of heating and hot water and problems with the electrical installation.

The landlord, Ashwani Kumar Sharda, argued that the repairs were impossible because the tenant refused access and had closed some rooms with key-coded locks or covered sockets with hoarded belongings.

Sharda told the tribunal that he had to serve a possession order to enter the property and carry out the repairs.

Painting and decorating

Painting and decorating are only considered repairs if they are done to make good after fixing something.

Replacing a kitchen, bathroom, or window is only a repair if they are the only way to fix a problem.

Some tenancy agreements insist landlords find alternative accommodation for tenants while extensive repairs or refurbishments are underway.

Tenants do not have to allow a refurbishment to reduce a void time if they have given notice.

It’s OK for tenants to decorate a rented home provided they have permission from the landlord and complete the job to an agreed standard. Most landlords ask tenants leaving property to return painting and decorations to the state when they move in.

View Related Handbook Page

Periodic and Other Visits

Landlords have a common law obligation to maintain a let property reasonably free from disrepair. The local authority may take enforcement action if they identify risks including, but not limited to, hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004. Letting/renting a house in multiple occupation (HMO) adds specific management obligations for landlords and occupiers, and these obligations are detailed earlier.