Everyone likes a bit of privacy, especially in this day and age where you can literally find anything out about anyone if you know where to look.
The last thing you want is to have someone coming into your property at their peril. When you own, you dont have to worry. Renting is a bit different. So the question is, how different? Can a tenant refuse access to a property? And if so, when?
Technically yes. A tenant can refuse access to a property at any time to any one, except obviously police. No one can force anyone to allow them into their home. Unfortunately in this situation the tenant is not operating within their rights and the situation may be escalated to court. There are some situations when it is a tenants right to refuse access. The obvious one is if someone randomly shows up at their door claiming to be the owner, in this situation the tenant is within their right to refuse access. Another scenario is if there is no notice from the Owner or Agent about an attendance then they can refuse access. The difficulty here is proving or disproving if notice was or was not given. This enforces the importance of a real estate agency keeping a good record of ingoing and outgoing mail. In an emergency situation then an owner or agent is not required to give notice. The most common intrusion to tenants is routine inspections however an owner or agency is only allowed to do 4 routine inspections over a 12 month period and with the required notice. If they attempt to conduct a 5th then the tenant is within their right to refuse access. There are however other instances when an owner/agent would need to attend and below are a list of required notices in different situations.
- Routine Inspections 7 to 14 days. Tenants have the opportunity to negotiate the date
- Repairs and maintenance 72h
- Rent collection at an agreed time
- Suspect Abandonment as soon as practicable
- Check breach remedy as agreed (its in the best interest of the tenant to allow access at a reasonable time t0 prove the breach has been remedied)
- Viewing for prospective tenant/buyer At a reasonable time
- Valuation purposes as agreed
- Emergency- No notice required
In the above there is one key problem. The word reasonable. This is completely subjective and always up for debate. It is not unreasonable for a tenant to refuse entry early in the morning, late in the evening or at weekends and public holidays. Another issue which can vary depending on the tenancy and property is the frequency of inspections in the event of when a property is for rent or for sale. There are several instances when tenants become extremely frustrated and having to keep their property in show home presentation at all times whilst a property is on the market and being inspected twice a week.
So what do you do if a tenant refuses access? At that exact time there is little that can be done if a tenant is physically refusing access. Under no circumstances should you put yourself into a situation which could be threatening. In a situation where a tenant is refusing access you can issue a Notice of Breach of Agreement for denial of access. If the tenant continues to refuse access sometimes the only course of action is to proceed through the courts.