You’re sitting on the sofa relaxing after a long day, and the doorbell rings. You look through the peephole, and it’s your landlord!
Now you’re wondering (and slightly panicking), “Why exactly is my landlord knocking at my house?”.
And that’s an excellent question!
Even though landlords expect tenants to never put a foot out of line, they don’t always follow the rules themselves.
Landlords shouldn’t always be at your house. They also shouldn’t be showing up unannounced just because.
Rogue landlords exist, and they can cause big issues for tenants. This is especially true if you’re not up to speed on the regulations (which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy!).
If you feel like your landlord isn’t playing fair with their visits, we’re here to help explain the rules as clearly and simply as possible.
Keep reading to learn what should and shouldn’t happen during landlord inspections – and what to do if your landlord is always at your house.
What SHOULD Happen During a Landlord Visit?
Visits are Booked in Advance
Even though it happens, landlords should not turn up at your house unannounced.
By law, they need to give at least 24 hours’ written notice before visiting. Ideally, they’ll give you more notice than this to help you prep (i.e., clean up!).
Of course, you can decide whether you’re okay with a last-minute visit. For example, if your landlord texts you a few hours before or just shows up, you can let them in if you want.
Just remember that they shouldn’t be doing that, and you are allowed to say no to the appointment or refuse their entry at the door if you haven’t been given proper notice.
Visits are Infrequent
It should state in your lease how frequent inspections will be.
For example, if it says quarterly visits may be held to inspect the property, you should expect your landlord to visit at least 4 times a year.
Other unplanned visits are also allowed outside of the agreed number of inspections per year, but only if there’s a good reason.
For example, if you’ve recently complained about an issue, your landlord may need to visit to inspect the problem. Or, if maintenance needs to be done on the property, your landlord will need to come round.
However, your landlord shouldn’t always be at your house. You have a right to live in their property undisturbed, so they can’t just stop by whenever they like to “check in” or “see how things are going”.
If they visit too often, you are well within your rights to refuse their entry or file a harassment claim.
Each Visit Has a Purpose
Once you sign a lease on a property and move in, it becomes your home.
If your landlord needs to visit, they should have a good reason. For example, to conduct maintenance, host an inspection, or provide a viewing to a new tenant if you’re moving out.
Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, which means your landlord should not be knocking at your door every other week.
Walk Around the Property
As expected, when a landlord or letting agent visits for an inspection, they’ll walk around the property.
That means going into every room, exploring the balcony, walking around the garden and/or looking in a garage or shed.
If you’re renting a furnished property, they’ll also do an inventory to check everything is still there.
During this time, they’ll be looking for things like damage, unsafe living conditions, severe untidiness/uncleanliness (think old mattresses rotting in the garden rather than a few socks on the floor!) or breaches in lease.
Pictures May Be Taken
Even though it can feel unsettling, landlords and letting agents are allowed to take pictures of your home during an inspection.
This is because they may need to use the photos as evidence that the visit took place and/or of the property’s condition.
For example, if a door handle is broken, there’s black mould on a bathroom wall, or you’ve installed a shelf when you shouldn’t have, they are allowed to take photos of these things.
However, a landlord should not be taking pictures of other things in your home. For example, they shouldn’t take specific photos of your personal possessions, your clothes inside a wardrobe, your work desk, or bed.
What Should NOT Happen During a Landlord Visit?
Here’s what landlords or letting agents should not do during an inspection:
- Turn up unexpectedly
- Visit when you’re not home and haven’t given them permission
- Let themselves in without your permission, and it’s not emergency
- Arrange a visit for an unsociable hour (unless you agree to it)
- Go through your personal belongings
- Take pictures of you
- Take pictures of your personal belongings (without good reason)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Landlords Do an Inspection Without Me Present?
The answer is yes and no, depending on what your lease says.
Some landlords ask you to be present for the inspection, while others don’t. If your landlord says you need to be there, it’s usually because they want to build a rapport with you when they visit.
Regardless of whether it’s required, it’s a good idea to be present for a landlord inspection.
When you paid your deposit upfront (which doesn’t always have to be paid upfront, by the way!), you agreed to treat the property well if you want to get your money back.
If you attend the inspection, you can address potential problems early, which can help when it comes to getting your deposit back later.
If you’re not there for the inspection, your landlord could get the wrong impression about you. They also may not communicate as much information to you about issues you need to fix.
Related article: Do you need a Lifetime Deposit?
Why Do Landlords Want to Visit?
Usually, landlords want to visit you to either check how you’re treating the property, undertake maintenance, or speak with you (if, for example, they haven’t been able to get hold of you).
A landlord or letting agent should give you a reason why they need to visit. It’s your home, and you have a right to live there peacefully and relatively undisturbed.
If your landlord hasn’t given you a reason why they want to visit, ask them. If you’re not sure whether your landlord is providing a good, “legal” reason, check your lease or speak with your local Citizen’s Advice.
Related article: Everything you need to know about end of tenancy cleaning
Can Landlords Turn Up Unannounced?
No, your landlord is not allowed to turn up unannounced and ask to come into your home.
However, some landlords still do this, even though it’s not allowed.
When a landlord wants to visit your property, they must give you at least 24 hours’ written notice. They also need to make sure the visit is arranged for a convenient time. For example, it isn’t very late at night.
If your landlord shows up out of the blue, uninvited, you can turn them away at the door, if you want to.
To stop your landlord from always showing up at your house, here’s what to say to your landlord in an email or text message.
Related article: Things renters need when moving from one rental to another
Can a Landlord Come Into My House if I’m Not There?
We’re going to say this loud and clear for anyone who needs to hear this: landlords cannot enter your home without your permission.
They are allowed to visit your home when you’re not there if you’ve agreed to it in advance. For example, if they need to fix a tap while you’re at work. Or if it’s an emergency, like a pipe has burst and they can’t get hold of you.
If your landlord keeps going to your house when you’re not there, here’s what to do.
First, speak to them about it. Write an email or text to remind them not to visit your property when you’re not home, as required by law.
If they don’t stop, it can be considered harassment by the landlord.
Can Landlords Take Pictures When They Visit?
Sadly, yes, landlords and letting agents are allowed to take pictures of your home during an inspection. This is because they may need to use the photos as evidence.
For example, a letting agent may take photos to prove the visit happened. Or they may take pictures to evidence the condition of the property at the time of visiting.
However, they should not take pictures of your personal belongings or you.
Advice from the Landlord Law Blog states that landlords can take pictures of the following during an inspection:
- Blocked fire exits
- Ill use of the property’s furnishings
- Cleanliness of the property as a whole
- Clothes being dried improperly (causing condensation)
- Damage/repair work needed
It also states that landlords should have a good reason for taking any other photos. If you feel uncomfortable with the images being taken, here’s what you can do:
- Ask the letting agent/landlord why each photo is necessary
- Ask them to delete anything unnecessary
- Make a complaint
- Take photos of the letting agent/landlord taking photos (for evidence if you decide to make a complaint)
Related article: How to find a remote-work-friendly rental
Can Landlords Go Through My Drawers, Wardrobes & Cupboards?
The simple answer is no; landlords shouldn’t go through your personal belongings when they visit.
Inspections are designed to check the condition of the property. It’s not to check what you, as the tenant, are up to in your daily life.
However, landlords are allowed to look in some of your closets and cupboards if they have a good reason for it.
For example, they might:
- Open a hallway cupboard to inspect the boiler
- Open kitchen cupboards to check for rodent/pest infestations
- Open an airing cupboard to check for condensation issues
- Look inside the fridge to check its condition (if the white goods belong to the landlord)
How Do I Prep for a Landlord Visit?
The first thing you should do to prep for a landlord visit is to check your lease. If you have a good lease, it should state clearly what will happen during an inspection. When it’s not clear, ask.
Next, give the property a quick tidy, if you can. While it’s your home and you’re allowed to live a little messily, try to get rid of anything troubling that may cause concern.
For example, bin the mouldy yoghurt pot you accidentally left on the windowsill. Or clean up the overflowing bin spewing rubbish onto the floor.
Don’t forget, having your landlord or letting agent visit is an opportunity for you to raise concerns, too. Before the visit, make a list of any questions or issues you have.
For example, if the internet is poor (and it’s included in the lease), something is broken, or you have a complaint about the neighbours, you can raise it during the visit.
In summary, here’s a checklist on how to prepare for a landlord visit:
- Check your lease
- Ask what will be checked
- Tidy up a little, if you can
- Hide anything you don’t want them to see (we don’t condone breaking your lease, but we all have things we might not want people to see or take photos of when they visit!)
- Prepare your own questions or concerns to raise
Are You Moving Rental?
If you’re moving to a new rental, we have good news!
You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.
For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.
A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.
We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!