Landlords Rights to Entry
Landlords should make every effort to establish a good working relationship with the tenant. Good communication and an amicable relationship will smooth the way when you need to get access for inspection, servicing or repairs.
It is important to note that, unless the tenant agrees otherwise, a landlord must give adequate, at least 24 hours, written notice of any visit and its purpose. Visits should be made at a reasonable time. Visits must not be intrusive. If they were, this could constitute harassment.
Landlords of shared accommodation may gain entry to communal areas that remain under their control at all reasonable hours but we would advise giving tenants reasonable notice of this and the reasons why, for instance testing of the fire alarm systems on a regular basis.
Tenants have a right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their accommodation. Even if the landlord gives proper notice of a visit, the tenant may still legally refuse access. If a tenant refuses access the landlord should try and find out why before resorting to legal action. It may be the timing of the appointment is not suitable and you could rearrange. Only if the tenant will not make alternative arrangements or where the tenant persistently causes delays and in so doing compromises the landlord’s ability to fulfil their legal obligations should the landlord consider legal action using prescribed legal process or seeking a court order to secure access.
There are times when the property may have to be entered as a matter of urgency. Statutory bodies are able to do this in appropriate circumstances:
- gas: contact the National Grid emergency number 0800 111 999
- water: sewer and/or flooding: contact the utility company responsible for water in the area if closing the stopcock is ineffective and the Local Authority Environmental Health Department who will be able to offer advice and assistance on individual circumstances
- suspicious circumstances relating to criminal activity: liaise with the police
If you are experiencing difficulties in gaining entry to the accommodation for routine, maintenance or emergency purposes the we would advise seeking legal advice and/or contacting the local authority Housing Service to discuss options available to you. Landlords who enter without the consent of the tenant or against their wishes must be able to demonstrate, if challenged, that it was reasonable to enter under the circumstances. See also Harassment and Illegal Eviction.
Nuisance and Antisocial Behaviour
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is any behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household. Examples include, but are not limited to, noise, violence, abuse, threats and use of the property for illegal drugs. Adequate checks prior to letting should minimise the risk of letting to someone who is likely to behave anti-socially and the tenancy agreement should include appropriate clauses about anti-social behaviour. It is common for the Local Authority to include a licence condition for premises which require a licence under the Housing Act 2004, stating that landlords must take reasonable action to prevent and, where necessary, to remedy anti-social behaviour.
In cases where anti-social behaviour is suspected by the landlord the police or the local authority anti-social behaviour teams may be contacted by the landlord or vice versa if there is a problem in one of their properties. It is important to try to work with them to resolve the situation.
A range of measures can be used including mediation, civil injunction, criminal behaviour order, and/or eviction, depending on the circumstances and seriousness of the situation.
In cases of noise from the property contact the Public Protection section as they may be able to take enforcement action against the perpetrator including prosecution and seizing equipment and see the Antisocial Behaviour and Neighbourhood Problems page for further information.
Ending a Tenancy
The ending of a residential tenancy must be done in the proper manner. Bringing a tenancy to an end usually takes two common forms, either through agreement of both parties or as a result of due legal process being taken to evict a tenant.
Legal advice should be taken from your solicitor. In most cases at least 6 months notice should be given, and if the tenant does not then leave willingly, you will need to apply to the Court for a possession order. This process and the notice periods are due to change with the implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.
What if the tenant and landlord want the tenancy to continue?
A tenancy will continue until either the landlord or the tenant brings it to an end – usually by serving notice to quit. A fixed term assured shorthold tenancy (AST) will automatically revert to a periodic tenancy after the end date, if the tenant stays put. The landlord and tenant can enter an agreement for another fixed term if required, or simply allow the tenancy to become periodic.
A fixed-term assured tenancy (i.e. non-short hold) will also continue after its expiry date, and the landlord can only bring it to an end on certain grounds.
What Landlords can do if they want a Tenant to leave?
A tenancy of someone’s home, starting on or after 28 February 1997, will in most cases be an assured short hold tenancy (AST). The procedures for ending a tenancy are different, depending on the type of tenancy so seek advice early if you have any doubts as to the type of tenancy. In most cases, the procedure will involve serving adequate and legal notice to quit on the tenant;
- the tenancy agreement may specify the method and manner by which notices may be served. Any specified method in the agreement should be followed as the landlord’s claim for possession could be struck out by the court if it is not
- Service should ideally be by hand, with a witness and be backed up by an alternative method, for instance by post, with either a certificate of posting or recorded delivery. At the time of making the application to court a landlord will be required to supply the court with evidence about the service of the notice
- If the notice is in the wrong form, or incorrectly served, it could mean that the landlord will lose the case. For inexperienced landlords we would recommend legal advice on the service of a notice to quit to ensure the correct procedures are followed and you don’t leave yourself open to legal challenge
If the landlord does not want the tenancy to continue and the fixed term has expired the landlord will need to serve a notice to bring the tenancy to an end. If there is no reason/ grounds (Housing Act 1988) the notice is known as a section 21 notice, as the landlord’s right to recover possession and the notice procedure is set out in section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. The notice must be served on the tenant at least two months before the landlord wants the tenancy to end.
Notices must comply with the following rules;
- State that possession is required under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988
- The duration of the notice must be at least two months and expire on the last day of a period of the tenancy (for example the last day of the month if rent is due on the 1st)
- The notice must not expire earlier than the fixed term of the agreement
The court cannot grant an order for possession during the first six months or fixed term of the tenancy using the section 21 procedure. Some of the requirements for a court order for possession under section 21 are:
- that the tenancy is an assured short hold tenancy
- that any fixed term of the tenancy has expired
- that a notice properly drafted in accordance with the provisions of section 21 has been served on the tenant and has expired
- that any deposit paid was duly protected in an authorised scheme
- that any licence required under the Housing Act 2004 (for example a mandatory House of Multiple Occupation licence) has been applied for
- that the landlord is registered with Rent Smart Wales and there is a licenced manager of the property
To end a Fixed-term Tenancy before it is due to expire?
There will be cases when a landlord has agreed a fixed term, e.g. student lettings, but needs to end the tenancy early due to for instance a change in the landlord’s circumstances, or because things are not working out with the tenant.
If a landlord wishes to obtain possession of the property during the fixed term of an assured or assured short hold tenancy, they can only seek possession:
- if one of the grounds for possession in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended) applies and
- if the tenancy agreement has a clause in it providing for this (this is sometimes known as a re-entry, break or forfeiture clause
For break clauses, to be valid they must be available for use by both the landlord and the tenant, not just the landlord alone.
Although a landlord can re-take possession if it is obvious that the tenant has abandoned the property, in most cases the landlord will need to obtain an order from the court. Evicting a tenant without a court order is a criminal offence (with very few exceptions).
The grounds for possession (used under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988) are divided into mandatory grounds (Grounds 1-8 upon which the court must order possession if the landlord proves the allegation) and discretionary grounds (Grounds 9-17 upon which the court may order possession if the allegations are proved and if the court considers it reasonable to make the order). The grounds must be specified in the notice. The notice is in a prescribed form. Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 also specifies what minimum notice period must be given – and this depends on the ground(s) being used.
A landlord will have to consider what it is that they wish to achieve by commencing legal proceedings to end the tenancy. They will have to take into account the time, effort and cost involved and also if they have used all other methods of resolving a problem.
You should seek legal advice both to draft and end tenancy agreements to ensure that contractual arrangements are correct and can be later relied upon.