Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Access for Showing – I have a beautiful apartment which will become available for rent soon. The current tenants keep the apartment like a pig-sty in breach of the tenancy agreement so I am unable to show prospective new tenants over it – you can hardly get in the door for rubbish. May I withhold the deposit at the end of the tenancy as I am going to lose one month’s rent? Many thanks for your help.

Most standard tenancy agreements say tenant/s must allow access for viewing, in the final stages of the tenancy. This clause may also say something about the presentation of the property.

However, and unfortunately for landlords, this clause is very difficult to enforce and in practice is not worth the bother. You may just have to accept that you will not be able to show the property until after these tenants have vacated.

Landlords should be aware that they do not have an automatic right of access to their tenanted properties, except in a dire emergency but otherwise only with the permission of their tenants even for repairs or statutory gas checks.

In practice none of these rights are easily enforced if tenants refuse access, even to the extent of changing locks. Also, landlords should be aware of the serious consequences of being accused of harassment – see: Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – a criminal offence.

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Enforcement would only be worthwhile if these problems occur early in the fixed term, in which case breach of contract (section 8 – grounds for possession) action may be worthwhile.

Section 16 of the Housing Act 1988 – gives a statutory right of access for repairs and grounds 12, 13 and 15 relate to breach of terms of the contract, neglect or damage to the property or the landlord’s contents.

In this case, withholding the deposit may not be an option as this should be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (tenancies commencing after 6th April 2007). You would need to substantiate a claim for damages.

Providing you have a good inventory, ideally one by an independent inventory clerk, with full photographic evidence, you should be able to substantiate a claim for damages for any cleaning, damage, and even loss of rent through breach of contract. Should the amount be in excess of the deposit then it may be necessary to peruse this as a Small Claim through your local County Court.

©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these standard answers which apply primarily to England and Wales. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of the case and all documents to hand.

Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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