How to Gain Access to Carry Out A Gas or Electrical Inspection for Landlords
A local authority in Kent has revealed that it stepped in to help resolve a private rental dispute over an electrical inspection. Ashford council said that a letting agent had approached its accommodation manager after a tenant had continuously prevented the safety check from taking place. This story may ring true with many property owners and agents who need to know how to gain access to carry out a gas or electrical inspection for landlords.
In the case in Ashford, the letting agent gave notice of the engineer’s visit on a number of occasions, only to find the tenant either out or with an excuse as to why they could not enter every time. After the council mediated, the tenant allowed the inspection to occur.
This article explores why you might need access to a property, the steps you should take to gain access and what to do if tenants refuse to let an inspection or maintenance take place.
Why You Might Need to Access a Property
These are the reasons a landlord or letting agent can request access to a property:
Annual gas check – A Gas Safe engineer will need to attend the property every year to renew gas safety certificates for the installations and appliances.
Electrical safety check – Every five years, a qualified person must inspect, test and fix the electrical installations in the property.
Repairs and maintenance – If there is a problem with the property or the contents supplied by the landlord, they should be able to access the property to remedy this.
Inspections – It is acceptable to inspect the property at reasonable intervals to check that the tenant is treating it well.
Inventories – The landlord should be allowed to enter the property at the start of the tenancy to check the contents and create an inventory, as well as at the end to check for damage to the property and contents.
Viewings – if it is coming to the end of a tenancy, you can schedule viewings for prospective new tenants.
However, it should be remembered that tenants have a right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property. This means the landlord or letting agent must give advance warning of their visit and try to minimise the number of times they attempt to gain access.
The Steps You Should Take to Gain Access to a Rental Property
You need to give at least 24 hours notice of your intention to access the property.
You should ask for permission to enter the property. Even in situations where you have implied or contractual right to visit, it is still good practice to request permission as, even though the landlord owns the property, it is the tenant’s home.
You should arrange a time that works for both the tenant and landlord.
What to Do If Tenants Refuse Access for a Gas or Electrical Inspection for Landlords
Your regular gas and electrical inspections are not only important legal requirements, they are essential for ensuring the safety of your tenants, the neighbours and the property as well. The Health and Safety Executive has stated that it will not bring prosecutions against landlords and letting agents that make three genuine attempts to access the property. This means that you should be sure to document all communications sent to the tenant.
Of course, it is in everyone’s interests to make sure the inspections go ahead, so you should not just leave it at that. You could try:
Wording the letters so that they clearly point out the reasons why safety checks are essential and how they benefit the tenant.
Communicating with the tenant to find out the reason why they do not want the safety check to take place. It could be a simple misunderstanding that could be easily resolved.
Reassuring the tenant that the purpose of the visit is purely to allow for an inspection and no other, ulterior motive. Encourage them to be in attendance whilst the check is carried out for additional peace of mind.
Pointing out that there is no cost to them for the inspection, certificate or any remedial work. The tenant might not realise this.
Escalating the issue to another body, such as the local council. Ashford Council offered the landlord who came to them for help advice on wording the letters and the best way to proceed. It pointed out that “sometimes the landlord, or the tenant, feel that approaching the council should be the last option when in fact we are always happy to assist and advise when it is necessary.”
If all else fails, you could look to issuing a Section 21 procedure or seeking a County Court judgement against the tenant. However, this should be a last resort.
Take the Pain Out of Property Management
Property management, and in particular dealing with property visits, inspections, safety checks and the like, can be a real headache. They take time to organise and perform, taking you away from growing your business. That is why we offer a choice of property management packages to help free up your schedule. Talk to us today about what we could do for you.