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SamTenant
06-11-2009, 10:15 AM
Hi All,

I am a tenant in a property where the agent provided me with an email at 6pm Tuesday evening saying that they will be coming to inspect the property at 10am the next morning. This is obviously less than 24 hours notice, which we were very unhappy about. Especially as my wife works odd hours and generally sleeps during the day.

Having received the email I responded by saying you have not provided the requisite 24 hours written notice and that you are not welcome at 10am the next day. In addition my partner contacted the letting manager to say this is unacceptable. He said that it was required due to the owner being available only on this day as he is living OS...

Despite our protests the agent turned up at 10am and inspected the property using their own keys.

We have been very good tenants for over 5 years and have not missed rent payments and have cared for the property well.

I am very angry as this and it is not an isolated case. In the past tradesmen have gained access with less than 2 hours notice - and was not an emergency situation. Our displeasure was expressed here too.

I feel the agent will simple continue on his merry way if we do not take further action. However, I simply do not know if there is anything we can do other than move out.

Is there any action we can take other than to move?? Penalise the agent/landlord...??

Many thanks in advance for your help.

dominic
06-11-2009, 10:23 AM
You may wish to contact the agent and explain that as they have entered your home without your express consent and against your express wishes, you are considering contacting the police to report them for suspected harrassment under s.1(3A) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 which states:

"the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent [my emphasis] of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household."

The individual carrying out the inspection will be personally criminally liable, and could face arrest by the police on the above charge - point this out. Likewise the agency as a corporate entity may face criminal investigation.

Also say that the entering of the premises without your consent has been treated, as a matter of civil law, as:

a. trespass; and
b. a breach of the quiet enjoyment clause under the tenancy agreement.

Inform them that you are taking legal advice as to what your rights are and what civil remedies you may be entitled to against both the LL and the letting agents.

A bit heavy handed - but pick and chose which parts of the above you want to throw at them.

islandgirl
06-11-2009, 11:15 AM
also change the locks! As long as you change them back again when you leave you are perfectly entitled to
I would also put in the letter that you are withdrawing any consent to them to enter unless accompanied by yourselves and with appropriate notice - and that you will consider each request and advise them if entry will be allowed.
You are in control - make sure they know it

Lawcruncher
06-11-2009, 11:21 AM
I do not think the action amounts to an offence. Section 1 (3A) requires that the person

knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that the conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.

Further, section 1 (3B) states:

A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (3A) above if he proves that he had reasonable grounds for doing the acts or withdrawing or withholding the services in question.

It can be debated according to whether the tenancy agreement permits entry and if so in what circumstances if the entry amounts to trespass. The tenant's right to quiet enjoyment is not absolute and whether entry amounts to a breach has to be a question of degree. In either case, whilst the action is unacceptable, I cannot see the court awarding other than nominal damages.

The real problem in cases like this is that landlords/agents often take a high-handed attitude and this, quite understandably, provokes an equal and opposite reaction from the tenant. A polite request rather than a peremptory demand is far more likely to result in a tenant allowing access.

I think it is important not to overreact as this may only lead to a souring of the tenant/agent relationship. What the OP should do is to write a very strongly worded note expressing his outrage and threatening dire consequences, print it, read it and then tear it up and throw it in the waste paper basket. The next day, he should write a polite but firm letter expressing his disappointment and the hope that in future all access will only be after agreeing an appointment.

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 11:40 AM
You do not HAVE to allow landlord or agent access to your home at any time without a court order - even if it says different in you AST. However, in the interest of good tenant/landlord relations it is often best to come to an arrangement whereby you will grant access providing you are present AND it is convenient. Islandgirls suggestion re the locks is a good one - but the locks must be changed back before you leave.

dominic
06-11-2009, 15:31 PM
I do not think the action amounts to an offence. Section 1 (3A) requires that the person

knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that the conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.

Further, section 1 (3B) states:

A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (3A) above if he proves that he had reasonable grounds for doing the acts or withdrawing or withholding the services in question.

It can be debated according to whether the tenancy agreement permits entry and if so in what circumstances if the entry amounts to trespass. The tenant's right to quiet enjoyment is not absolute and whether entry amounts to a breach has to be a question of degree. In either case, whilst the action is unacceptable, I cannot see the court awarding other than nominal damages.

The real problem in cases like this is that landlords/agents often take a high-handed attitude and this, quite understandably, provokes an equal and opposite reaction from the tenant. A polite request rather than a peremptory demand is far more likely to result in a tenant allowing access.

I think it is important not to overreact as this may only lead to a souring of the tenant/agent relationship. What the OP should do is to write a very strongly worded note expressing his outrage and threatening dire consequences, print it, read it and then tear it up and throw it in the waste paper basket. The next day, he should write a polite but firm letter expressing his disappointment and the hope that in future all access will only be after agreeing an appointment.

Perhaps, which is why you would be reporting suspected harassment.

However, I do agree that it is better to not to sour the situation further unnecessarily.

I don't think damages would necessarily be nominal. Remember trespass is actionable per se. Additionally, I think the courts would be reluctant, for reasons of public policy, to effectively endorse this behaviour by, or soften the consequences to, an agent by awarding nominal damages only.

Also, bear in mind that the feeling of someone else having been round your property against your consent is akin to the feeling victims of burglary will feel. This may alter the position somewhat on how the court measures "loss" and the associated award of proportionate damages.

Lawcruncher
06-11-2009, 18:39 PM
You do not HAVE to allow landlord or agent access to your home at any time without a court order - even if it says different in you AST.

I remain to be convinced that this is a correct statement of the law without qualification. See:

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=21308&highlight=enter&page=2

Post 11

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=5814&highlight=enter&page=6

Posts 58 and 59

http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=104406&st=60

Post 61 onwards

mind the gap
06-11-2009, 18:46 PM
What the OP should do is to write a very strongly worded note expressing his outrage and threatening dire consequences, print it, read it and then tear it up and throw it in the waste paper basket. The next day, he should write a polite but firm letter expressing his disappointment and the hope that in future all access will only be after agreeing an appointment.

I have tried this once or twice. It didn't work.

You can always iron the crumpled letter flat again. However, if you then sent it, the recipient would detect your wavering (from the residual crumpling) and exploit it even further.

Best just go for the jugular to begin with.:D

Lawcruncher
06-11-2009, 19:04 PM
Perhaps, which is why you would be reporting suspected harassment.

However, I do agree that it is better to not to sour the situation further unnecessarily.

I don't think damages would necessarily be nominal. Remember trespass is actionable per se. Additionally, I think the courts would be reluctant, for reasons of public policy, to effectively endorse this behaviour by, or soften the consequences to, an agent by awarding nominal damages only.

Also, bear in mind that the feeling of someone else having been round your property against your consent is akin to the feeling victims of burglary will feel. This may alter the position somewhat on how the court measures "loss" and the associated award of proportionate damages.

All this is rather straying outside my area of expertise so I had perhaps better not be too dogmatic on these issues. We need the opinion of a litigator. Until one comes along I think the position is something like this:

I honestly feel we are talking about something rather less than harassment here.

Trespass is indeed actionable per se however insignificant, but by no means all cases of trespass are going to involve significant damages. Whether in any particular case involving entry by a landlord there is in fact a trespass is by no means clear cut.

As to a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment, since that is not a tort but a matter of contract the damages can only reflect loss and penal damages cannot be awarded.

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 19:05 PM
I have tried this once or twice. It didn't work.

You can always iron the crumpled letter flat again. However, if you then sent it, the recipient would detect your wavering (from the residual crumpling) and exploit it even further.

Best just go for the jugular to begin with.

MTG - no wonder your hamster is depressed if you always go for the jugular! It may not be feeling a bit 'off', it might have gone off! :p

(for those who don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=166761&postcount=20)

mind the gap
06-11-2009, 19:13 PM
MTG - no wonder your hamster is depressed if you always go for the jugular! It may not be feeling a bit 'off', it might have gone off!

(for those who don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=166761&postcount=20)

Don't worry, it was just a ploy to stop Jeffrey bombarding me with enough information about Herman's Hermits to fill about five million skips. I don't even have a hamster.

I did however receive an absence note from a child in my class once, which explained that she had been away because her dog, Toby, had been to the vet with depression. :confused:

Lawcruncher
06-11-2009, 19:18 PM
Best just go for the jugular to begin with.:D

One of the problems in life is knowing when to go for the jugular. Being a conveyancer and not a litigator and of a Lockian disposition I prefer restraint and reasoned argument as a first step.

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 19:19 PM
Don't worry, it was just a ploy to stop Jeffrey bombarding me with enough information about Herman's Hermits to fill about five million skips. I don't even have a hamster.

I did however receive an absence note from a child in my class once, which explained that she had been away because her dog, Toby, had been to the vet with depression. :confused:

You should get one - you might find it a calming influence when dealing with dodgy agents or tenants

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 19:20 PM
One of the problems in life is knowing when to go for the jugular. Being a conveyancer and not a litigator and of a Lockian disposition I prefer restraint and reasoned argument as a first step. Pretty vital for an ENT surgeon I would guess!

Okay, I'm in a silly mood but will stop now out of respect for the OP

Lawcruncher
06-11-2009, 19:21 PM
I can though understand that a lifetime of teaching is probably not conducive to inculcating a Lockian disposition - except perhaps as a defence mechanism.

mind the gap
06-11-2009, 20:10 PM
I can though understand that a lifetime of teaching is probably not conducive to inculcating a Lockian disposition - except perhaps as a defence mechanism.

On the contrary. A Lockian disposition is a useful survival mechanism which I think teachers (and parents) would be well-advised to adopt.

The stances I take in jest on LLZ should not always be read as the real me, anyway :)...

...and no hamster was harmed in the making of any of my posts.

kitty27
12-11-2009, 00:02 AM
Hi!

I am a tenant in a property of just over 6 years. Annually lease. Private let through letting agent.

Previous issues have been the agent handing out keys to tradesmen, for non urgent repairs - they turn up without knocking and let themselves in - without any notice or warning on 4 occasions. Despite telling the agents the keys must not be handed out and I wish to be present. I was once in the shower when a workman walked in me, not only very scared but as a lone female also vunerable standing with only a towel on.

I always give plenty of times and dates to allow access if I know they wish entry for gas certificate/repairs etc these dates are often ignored and basically I'm told we will be here on said date as we have keys - my problem is, as I travel a lot - this could mean with their extreme last minute notice if at all then if I'm away I wouldn't get the notice.

Do I have a right to reply and be present as it's not case of refusing entry to be awkward \but often I'm away from home or due to nightshifts I often are sleep during the day. The agent complained she couldn't get into the bedroom - I said I worked nights and was sleeping, and as they couldn't state a time just 08.30-18.00 I couldn't stay awake all day and since they wouldn't change the date to an option of many I had suggested.

The last inspection I got a letter from the agent on the Saturday - they are closed all weekend - stating an inspection was due they would be around on the Monday morning first thing as they had keys - no time to respond as office shut all weekend.

Surely even with notice and the fact I've expressed my feelings over the keys not being handed out that I'm entitled to give permission - the assumption seems to be - no response must mean permission, so they come and let themselves in. If I’m on holiday I wouldn’t have the chance to even know my home was being entered.

Inspections used to be annually but now they have changed to every 3 months - a change I wasn't told of in advance.

This time I’ve been sent a text message at 18.00 to advise of an inspection tomorrow at some time. This nearly got deleted as it came from a name I didn’t recognise and the abbreviations of the from on the text wasn’t of the letting agent. Again very last minute and doesn't give me a right of response. Also if I was away abroad the mobile wouldn't be on, this message would be missed an again they would enter with keys without permission.
Every time I complain – they say sorry the keys will never be handed out without your permission – only till the next time and should the notice they give be late or I don’t get it they assume all OK and even without my permission they keys are handed out again.

I understand under emergency situations but this isn’t one


Best Regards

islandgirl
12-11-2009, 09:26 AM
Once again just change the locks and allow access by appointment!

tom999
12-11-2009, 10:01 AM
Once again just change the locks and allow access by appointment!True in E&W. But the law is different in Scotland.


I am a tenant in a property of just over 6 years. Annually lease. Private let through letting agent.Your landlord doesn't have a right to access your home to carry out repairs or inspections, unless its stated in your tenancy agreement. Your permission is required before (s)he can enter your home for this reason. Remember that your tenancy is with the landord and the agent acts on landlord's behalf.

In the first instance, try to contact your landlord diirectly, informing him/her of the unauthorised access into your home. Here are some steps you could take to stop this harassment (http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/getadvice/advice_topics/eviction/harassment_from_your_landlord_).
You could also try:

Contacting the local council to check whether the landlord is registered (illegal for private landlords in Scotland not be registered since 2006)
Reporting the agent, if they are a member of a regulatory body or to trading standards/similar organisations.

islandgirl
12-11-2009, 10:53 AM
agreed. Check the law, then change the locks!

theartfullodger
12-11-2009, 13:19 PM
Once again just change the locks and allow access by appointment!

I think in Scotland this is not lawful for the tenant..

Kitty - I'd suggest checking 1st that the Landlord has...
a) Registered as a landlord with the local council (see...
https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/Pages/Process.aspx?Command=ShowPublicSearchPage&Reset=true&SessionToken=aa7592b9-9054-44fc-ad25-5ced1346cbe7
) - if not a criminal offence (!)
b) Confirm, if you have gas, if there is a valid gas certificate..
c) Check you have a copy of valid electrical safety cert. (needed in Scotland, not in Engerland)
d) If the place is on more than 1 floor do you have mains-wired interlinked smoke alarms??
e) List any repairs needed to property, write calm, polite letter to Landlord, copy agent, and add that from now on you will only be willing to accept inspections, visits, whatever at times agreed by you, in writing in advance. Keep copy of letter.

I've been told Scottish LL can enter in emergency (the old "I thought I smelt gas Sheriff sir") but that visits/inspections should be as agreed. See how it goes..

Also have a look at
http://www.prhpscotland.gov.uk/prhp/1.html

Cheers!

Lodger (Scottish Landlord since 2000)

kitty27
13-11-2009, 08:25 AM
I've contaced Shelter for advice via email.

I can't find much info about the law in Scotland regarding this - I find general advice but not sure if it's just advice or law. Not sure if i can change the locks, but then again despite the letting agent stating firmly the keys will never be given out without my permission expecpt in an Emergency has turned out o be another lie from them.

I have never texted then LA and all of a sudden they send one late in the day as notice of inspection - I don't think so!

Thanks for the replies!