The Property Ombudsman has moved to provide new guidance concerning gaining tenants’ consent before accessing a property.
This alteration comes as a direct result of queries from agents regarding changes made to paragraph 8f of TPO Lettings Code of Practice, which came into force on the 1st October.
A number of agents interpreted the paragraph as suggesting that the explicit consent of a tenant must be gained before gaining entry. However, The Property Ombudsman has said this is incorrect.
The paragraph has subsequently been amended, so it now reads:
‘Access to a property may be required by you, or an authorised third party on behalf of the landlord (e.g. a surveyor, builder, tradesman etc) for the purpose of viewing the condition, state of repair and/or to fulfil related statutory obligations and/or to carry out repairs. Ifyou hold the key but are not able to accompany that person, the tenant must be given the appropriate minimum notice of 24 hours or that prescribed by law, of the appointment (unless agreed otherwise with the tenant beforehand), except in cases of genuine emergency. Notwithstanding providing the tenant with reasonable notice to access a property, express consent from the tenant to do so should be obtained.’
In practice then, an agent must give written confirmation of their request to access the property to the tenant.
Within this request, the tenant must be asked for their confirmation of their consent. This request must also be issued in good time, in order to allow the tenant reasonable time to respond. An absolute minimum timeframe is 24 hours.
The alteration was made to the TPO Lettings Code after a number of cases where agents had only given 24 hours notice, sometimes not through the correct channels. For example, many sent the request through text message before entering, often surprising the tenant.
The TPO said: ‘Whilst legal, this was clearly not good practice and not the manner in which we would expect agents, who had voluntarily chosen to follow the TPO Code, to behave.’