Inspections - Don't Be A Doormat!
The landlord or agent can conduct routine inspections twice a year (cl77). Additionally they are entitled to an initial inspection at the beginning of your tenancy
(within the first month) and a final inspection in the last month of your tenancy before you vacate (cl78).
There is no obligation on the tenant to return the premises to perfect condition. You have every right to leave the premises in their every day state, bearing inmind your obligations under your tenancy agreement to take reasonable care of them – keeping them reasonably clean, having regard to the normal incidents of living (cl 63(c)).
On the condition that the lessor gives you one week’s notice, the lessor or their agent, may enter the premises at a reasonable time, having regard to the interests of the tenant and the lessor, for the purpose of making or inspecting repairs (cl 82).
However, the lessor is not entitled to use this as a backdoor method of conducting additional inspections! Remember, an inspection time has to be reasonable to both parties. It is reasonable for you to ask for a specific time and it is always your right to be present at any inspection! The landlord or their agent cannot gain entry without the tenant’s consent. If there is a dispute about access, the landlord must go to the Tribunal for an order about when access is to happen.
The landlord or their agent cannot gain entry without the tenant’s consent. If there is a dispute about access, the landlord must go to the Tribunal for an order about when access is to happen.
If your right to privacy and enjoyment is being abused by the landlord or agent, you have several options:
- Write to them asking them to stop the offending behaviour, referring to their obligations under your tenancy agreement. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter (signed and dated) as evidence in case stronger action is required at a later stage. See our Sample Letter on access for suggestions.
- In serious cases, you may pursue legal action to protect your enjoyment and privacy. Interfering with a tenant’s privacy or enjoyment of the property is in breach of the agreement. The tribunal has the power to restrain any action in breach of the standard terms and to order compensation for any loss caused by a breach.
- In serious cases, the tenancy can be terminated; for example, a consistent failure to provide reasonable notice of entry. The process is set out in the Standard Lease (see Factsheet: Ending a Tenancy and Breaking a Lease). You should seek further advice before taking this step.
If the problem is being caused by a real estate agent, you can make a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.
Can you change the locks?
Either the tenant or landlord can change the locks with the agreement of the other party. This agreement must not be unreasonably withheld. The party who changes the locks will normally pay for it, unless otherwise agreed (cl54(3)).
In an emergency either party may change the locks, at their own cost, without the agreement of the other party (cl54(4)). Where a lock is changed, a copy of the new key must be provided to the other party as soon as possible (cl54(5)).
If there is a problem and you feel that you need to change the locks, another option is to apply to the ACAT for an order.