During a tenancy, the landlord, property agent or a person acting on the landlord’s behalf can access the leased premises if they provide notice and follow the correct procedures.
Typically, access is sought to conduct inspections, complete maintenance, and repairs, or show the property to prospective buyers.
While some new investor landlords may think they can enter their property once the tenant has moved in, tenants do have the right to privacy when renting.
I know of several incidents where new investors made the mistake of accessing their property without seeking the tenant’s permission. Two of these were recent.
In one incident, an owner was showing his family through a property he had recently purchased while the tenant was out shopping; the tenant came home to find them all in her living room.
Another occasion involved a tenant arriving home to find the landlord and his wife wandering around the backyard of the rental property checking the condition of the lawn and garden.
In my time as a property manager, I’ve heard numerous accounts of landlord investors carrying out their own repairs and stories of tenants returning home to discover cupboards and doors left open – without the tenant receiving any prior notice.
Australian law has many rules and regulations in place to protect landlords as well as tenants.
Rights and responsibilities vary by state, with NSW governed by the Residential Tenancy Act and laws can change. It is essential for landlords, especially new investors to acquaint themselves with these laws and regulations, so they understand what is permitted and expected.
Know your rights and responsibilities
The key regulations related to accessing property during a tenancy are:
- No-one can inspect a property prior to giving the tenant notice
- Seven days’ written notice must be given to carry out a routine inspection
- No more than four times a year can an owner/agent inspect the property
- 24 hours’ written notice must be given for emergency repairs or by negotiation
- A notice must be provided either by email or letter.
Entering a rental property without notice is a breach of the tenant’s ‘quiet enjoyment’. It’s also classed as trespassing and a breach of security. Police may become involved depending on the situation.
By and large, tenants who experience a breach of their privacy and security will want to break their lease and move out, vacate as soon as the lease expires or request the locks to be changed.
These outcomes are far from ideal for either party.
During the tenancy, it’s important to remember that while the landlord owns the property, the tenant has the right to determine when other people are allowed in.
What’s the best approach?
For self-managing landlords, the best approach is generally for the landlord to request the tenant’s consent to enter the property and agree on a mutually convenient time and day.
Another approach is to find an experienced and qualified property manager to own the tenant relationship and communicate with them directly. Good agents understand the rules and regulations which avoids new investors making common and costly first-time landlord mistakes.
Need more information?
Stills Properties has been managing investment properties for Sydney landlords for over 30 years, contact us to discuss your investment property management needs.
Also, Fair Trading NSW has more details on notice before entry requirements.