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Landlord Legal Issues - October 2023

Landlord & tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. My tenant is in the last month of her tenancy and has informed me that she will be vacating. I want to take some prospective tenants round who have indicated that they would wish to move in the day after the current tenant vacates – which would be good for me as it would avoid a void. However, despite the fact that I gave over 24 hours’ notice as provided in the tenancy agreement, my tenant will not allow us access. My prospective tenant is unwilling to sign a tenancy without having seen the property. What can I do?

A. A number of things to say here. First – although it will put her in breach of the terms of her tenancy, your tenant can refuse you entry, under the ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’, which is a term of all tenancies. So don’t even think of going in without her consent.

Then, you need to be very careful about signing new tenants up before the existing tenant has vacated. It is perfectly within the existing tenant’s rights to change her mind and refuse to move out. If she does this and you have signed up a new tenant, this will put you in breach of contract, and vulnerable to a claim for compensation. So, never do this.
It is also a bad idea to move new tenants in immediately after the old tenant moves out. You need to allow time to inspect the property thoroughly and do any necessary repair work.

For example:
◆ The tenant could have left a live wire in the wall after removing an unauthorised wall light
◆ The bed could be infested with bed bugs
◆ The sash in a sash window could have been damaged
◆ The tenant’s lifestyle could have caused damp and mould in the property

If you do not allow time to inspect the property thoroughly and deal with issues such as these, and if the new tenant is injured as a result, YOU will be liable, even though the problem was not caused by you but caused by the outgoing tenant. 

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