By Mike Edwards
Landlords sometimes wish for whatever reason to exclude the tenant from having access to a specific part of the property. Typically this is usually the garage because the Landlord needs to leave a vehicle in it himself, or for other storage. Or it can be an attic or loft space which the Landlord wants for storage. Or it can be a cellar, perhaps because his collection of vintage wine is stored there, or possibly on safety grounds if it has narrow, steep stairs and poor lighting – the sort of thing an EHO assessor would love to find on an HHSRS inspection!!
But Landlords really need to consider how their personal preferences might impact on the tenant as normally they will be expecting to rent the whole of a property including any garage, loft or cellar. After all you wouldn’t expect the Landlord to reserve the rear garden to himself or the fourth bedroom for use as a mini gym – so why reserve these other areas and exclude the tenant from them.
Technically speaking unless it is a Resident Landlord situation where the Landlord has a legal right to access for some necessary purpose – such as access to his own PERMANENT accommodation within the building – it will almost always lead to difficulties if the Landlord reserves any of the accommodation to himself.
First if he is constantly (or even infrequently) coming and going to the property to access his reserved area – and presumably he will be or otherwise why reserve it in the first place – the Landlord will eventually fall foul of the tenant’s peaceful occupancy rights as stated in the tenancy agreement and enshrined in and enforced through the 1977 Protection From Eviction Act.
Secondly there must be no meters or stop cocks or utility equipment of any kind which might need to be accessed especially in the case of an emergency, like a flood.
If the Landlord insists on excluding any part of the property that the tenant might normally expect to be ‘theirs’ then this must be discussed with and clearly explained to the tenant whose agreement must be clearly obtained. The Landlord must also realise any such exclusions may also have an impact on the rental value, especially if it is a garage.
Any such areas must be securely locked so there can be no question of arguments and accusations if items thought to be in the excluded area disappear and the area should be excluded completely from the inventory other than to flag it up as not forming part of the tenancy and the tenant not being responsible for it in any way and at any time.
Basically exclusion of the tenant from any areas in a rented property and its grounds is best avoided if possible.