Dealing With Unauthorised Landlord Entries

picture of a key in a door
Renters' Rights > Dealing With Unauthorised Landlord Entries
Ben Yarrow
21 February 2024
11 May 2023

Remember, your home is your castle, and your landlord should respect that. If they're forgetting their manners (and the law), by entering your property unannounced and unauthorised,  there are tools to help you to handle it. 

Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights - you've got plenty of resources at your disposal. After all, everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their own home.

Understanding Your Rights

First things first: let's understand your rights under UK law. The Housing Act 1988, along with the covenant of quiet enjoyment, essentially means that your landlord can't just barge into your property whenever they please. Unless it's an emergency (like a gas leak or fire), they must give you at least 24 hours' notice before entering, and it should be at a reasonable time of day.

They can enter for legitimate reasons - for instance, to inspect the property or carry out repairs. But popping in for a cuppa unannounced? Not cool, and much more importantly, not legal.

Remember: You can rate your landlord on Marks Out Of Tenancy


What Does The Law Say About Entering Without Permission?

In the context of entering rental properties, UK landlords need to be aware of and comply with several laws and principles:

1. Protection from Eviction Act 1977: This law protects tenants from harassment and illegal eviction. If a landlord continually enters a property without permission, this can be seen as harassment, potentially leading to criminal charges.

2. Housing Act 1988: This is the key piece of legislation governing residential tenancies in the UK. While it doesn't directly address the issue of landlord access, it implies the right to quiet enjoyment, which means tenants have the right to live undisturbed in their homes. This means landlords must provide adequate notice before entering the property.

3. The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment: Although not a standalone law, the covenant of quiet enjoyment is an implied term in every English residential lease. It gives the tenant the right to occupy the property in peace without interference from the landlord.

4. The Human Rights Act 1998: Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to respect for private and family life, can be applicable in extreme cases where a landlord's behaviour might infringe upon the tenant's privacy.

5. Data Protection Act 2018: In relation to keys and access, landlords must be careful about who has access to the keys and information about tenants. Unauthorised access could potentially lead to breaches of this Act.

6. Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords have a right to enter the premises to view the condition and state of repair, but only with 24 hours' notice in writing. They are also allowed to access the property to carry out repairs.

Remember, both landlords and tenants should always seek legal advice when unsure of their legal rights and obligations.


Steps to Take if Your Landlord Enters Without Permission

1. Document Everything: If you suspect your landlord is entering your property without permission, start by documenting each incident. Write down the dates, times, and what you found upon returning home. If there's physical evidence, like moved furniture or belongings, take photos.

2. Communication is Key: Reach out to your landlord. It could be a misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge on their part. Politely remind them of the law - that they're required to provide at least 24 hours' notice before visiting.

3. Write a Formal Letter: If the issue persists, it's time to put it in writing. Write a formal letter stating the facts, expressing your concern, and requesting them to respect your rights. Remember to keep a copy.

4. Seek Legal Advice: If your landlord continues to enter without permission, it might be time to seek legal advice. Citizens Advice is a great place to start, as they offer free, confidential, and impartial advice.

5. Involve Your Local Council: Local authorities can investigate complaints about landlords. Reach out to your local council's private renting team or environmental health department if you feel your rights are being infringed.

6. Consider Legal Action: If all else fails, you might have to consider legal action. This can be a stressful route, so it's worth getting advice from a housing solicitor before proceeding.

Legal Support and Advice

As we mentioned, Citizens Advice is a great resource for understanding your rights and getting initial advice.

For further legal support, check out Shelter England, a charity providing advice, information, and advocacy to people in housing need.

Law Centres Network is another fantastic organisation offering legal advice on housing issues, and they can potentially represent you in court if needed.

Don't forget, always consult with a legal professional before making any significant decisions.