It stands to reason that landlords must be able to access flats in order to carry out repairs. However, under s11 (ss6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 there is a process that they must follow which reads as follows: ‘in a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair’.
So landlords wishing to carry out repairs do not have the right to turn up unannounced to check on a property or a tenant. It must be agreed mutually beforehand if they wish to enter for a specific purpose, it must be at a reasonable time and after giving the tenant not less than 24 hours notice in writing. More notice can be given if the works are to be prolonged or disruptive and in such cases tenants should be given details of the works to be carried out and an approximate finishing time or completion date.
Note: It has been held that breach of the repairing covenants can also be considered to be breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
If the landlord or the contractors attempt to enter without permission the tenant can launch a claim for trespass as they have the right over the premises just as an owner-occupier does. Therefore landlords should be wary about entering the property when the tenant is not there. Where a tenant has given permission, but has advised they will not be at the property themselves, it is recommended that landlords/agents are best accompanied by a witness.