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Blog > Landlord access to rented properties - what are your rights?
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Landlord access to rented properties - what are your rights?

Despite legal ownership, landlords can only access their rental properties at certain times and for certain reasons. They must also give the right amount of notice or get permission from the tenants. These rules protect the tenant’s right to peace, comfort, and privacy on the property. 

In this article, we explore the landlord’s right to access and the various rules associated. To avoid a complicated tribunal case or an invalid bond claim, find everything you need to know below. 

Acceptable reasons to access a rental property

Landlords have the right to access the rented property for specific reasons, such as:

Making repairs

If you need to arrange repairs or maintenance on your rental property, you must give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice. This includes making updates to the home that help toward obtaining compliance with Healthy Homes Standards. Any work must be done between 8am and 7pm. Cosmetic improvements can only be done at a mutually agreed time.

If the work is more extensive and, depending on how inconvenient it is for the tenant, it could be worth discussing a rent reduction until the repairs are completed.

Regular maintenance

Since the landlord is typically responsible for exterior maintenance, they can enter the grounds of the property without giving notice. For example, the landlord can access the property to complete tasks such as cleaning the gutters or pruning trees. If the tenant has agreed to it, the landlord may also be responsible for tasks like mowing the lawn.  

However, the landlord must avoid disturbing the tenant’s comfort and privacy during these visits. They should work as quickly and quietly as possible, and never enter the house. While you don’t have to give notice, it is always a good idea to do so as a courtesy.

Conducting inspections

If you’re a landlord, it is wise to regularly inspect your rental property to make sure everything is working well, there’s no damage, and your tenants are keeping things reasonably clean and tidy. It’s also worth noting that most insurance providers require proof that regular inspections have been conducted.

Rental inspections must occur between 8am and 7pm, and no more than once every four weeks. You must notify the tenant at least 48 hours before the inspection and no longer than 14 days in advance. 

Tenants don’t have to be present during inspections but you should give them the option. Remember to be respectful during these inspections and thank the tenant if they’re taking good care of your property. 

Methamphetamine testing

If you are testing the property for methamphetamine, you must notify the tenant at least 48 hours prior. You also need to provide the test results in writing to each tenant within seven days of receiving them.

Showing the property to prospective tenants

If a tenancy is ending soon, you may be looking for new tenants to take over the lease. In these cases, you need to have written permission from your current tenants before showing anyone around the property. 

The tenant cannot withhold permission unreasonably but can set certain conditions. For example, they may limit viewings to certain times and days. Visit the tenancy services website to find out more about the end of a tenancy.

Showing the property to prospective buyers

If you want to sell the property, you may wish to show it to prospective buyers but this requires the tenant’s full permission. This requires careful communication and negotiation so we recommend writing a schedule of access and making sure everyone involved has signed it. 

Tenants cannot withhold their permission but they can set terms, such as: 
  • Designating times and days of the week for viewings.
  • Limiting viewings to appointments only. 
  • Refusing open homes and auctions at the property.
  • Requesting a temporary rent reduction (you do not necessarily have to grant this).
  • Refusing to allow photographs of their personal possessions. 

Additionally, landlords must get the tenant’s permission before entering the house to take photos or provide access for professionals like valuers, real estate agents, and building experts. Tenants also have the right to be present at the home at all times, including during open homes.

The minimum notice period to access a rental 

In most cases, you are required to provide at least 24 to 48 hours notice before entering the property. You must also respect the tenant’s right to privacy and not abuse your access privileges. 

In most cases, these are the general minimum notice period based on the type of access you may require: 
  • Repairs – 24 hours' notice 
  • Inspections – 48 hours to 14 days' notice
  • Methamphetamine testing – 48 hours notice
  • Showing the property – Requires the tenant’s permission as mentioned above

Legal access for property management companies

In a recent case, a tenant had vacated the rental property and the owner took the initiative to inspect it. They cleaned the property, attended to some minor repairs, and then contacted their property manager.

Unfortunately, this meant that the final inspection could not be completed by the property manager, jeopardising the owner’s bond claim. In other words, the repair costs could not be deducted from the tenant’s bond. 

Let this be a lesson of caution – you must always contact your property manager to gain access to the property. Remember that you have employed the property manager as your agent and given them written authority to act on your behalf. Regardless of whether the tenant is still living there or not, ask your property manager to arrange access for you. This will help prevent disputes and save you significantly both financially and personally.

How to avoid the tenancy tribunal

For your protection, seek expert advice from a licensed property management company. At McDonald Real Estate, our team of experts have years of experience handling rental property management and the legal complexities involved. In general, we recommend following these simple rules:
  • Contact your property manager first. 
  • Never use force to enter a property.
  • Check the tenancy agreement.
  • Check the Residential Tenancies Act 1986
  • Be respectful of your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.
  • Communicate clearly.
The McDonald Property Management team can help you to understand how and when you can enter your rental property. Reach out to us today to avoid confusion and make sure your investment is in good hands. Contact us today
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