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A little background

I'm a student renting (short hold) a studio apartment from a private landlord through an estate agent. The term of the contract ends in September of this year. I've had multiple issues with the landlord previously (failing to give proper 24 hour notice for inspections, letting himself in without permission while I was asleep after a 7 hour inspection notice, misrepresenting my legal obligations with regards to entry, threatening to charge me for fumigation because a few flies had come in the window, etc) and I have full email correspondence proving these things. The estate agents did not get heavily involved but the brief contact I had from them indicated they were very much on his side and they also misrepresented the law and the facts of the situation.

This situation came to a head when I refused the landlord entry for an inspection (his notification was insufficient) and responded to his and the agents' accusations that my conduct was improper with a lengthy email to both the landlord and agents asserting my rights and detailing the various ways in which they had not been respected. Neither party responded to that email, though the landlord did acknowledge a repair request I also made within it, so I know he read it. I'm including an extract from that email in which I explicitly state my expectations moving forwards at the bottom of this message.

This was a few months ago, after I sent that email I heard no more from either party and have been left in peace. I now have zero respect or tolerance for the landlord or the agents, and while I will continue to act respectfully and professionally and within the bounds of the contract and law, I fully intend to assert my rights to their fullest capacity and hold them to the law.

Stop waffling, what's happening now?

I just received the following email from the agents:

Dear [me], Just to let you know, we have a viewing at your property tomorrow at 4:30pm. We have keys for access.

This time is particularly inconvenient for me as my current sleep patterns put that in the middle of my night and I would have to do a significant amount of rearranging of my stuff before I'd be willing to have the place be seen. If I can avoid or postpone this I would very much like to, but I will abide by my contractual obligations.

This email was received at 16:07 today, so they're just abiding by the 24 hours notification requirement.

I understand that they may not (with the exception of emergencies) enter without my permission, but that I am required to give permission for a valid request or potentially face consequences.

The actual questions

  • Does this statement that a viewing WILL be taking place, rather than a request, constitute obtaining my permission?

  • What happens if I do not reply to this at all, is permission implicitly granted unless explicitly denied?

  • Does the third expectation I laid out below not count as explicitly denying them entry without obtaining explicit permission from myself?

  • Can they be conducting viewings already when the contract is not up until September?

  • If the agents are acting improperly here, is that grounds for me to refuse the viewing?

The line about having keys for access definitely seems to fly in the face of my saying they may never let themselves in without explicit permission.

The expectations I laid out to the landlord and agent

  • You shall always give, at least, 24 hours notice before demanding entry. I would consider it courteous, as is generally customary, for you to give significantly more.

  • Scheduled appointments shall have a reasonably short window for your arrival, I would suggest no more than 30 minutes. Merely specifying "the morning" is not sufficient.

  • With the exception of emergencies as specified by the law, you shall never let yourself into the flat without my express permission. If I am due to be out at the time of your arrival I will let you know this and grant permission for the agreed-upon window of time. Even in these scenarios you will knock first before letting yourself in.

  • You shall interpret those parts of the contract that are ambiguous with regards to magnitude in a reasonable manner. This is already the standard set out by the law. I feel you have exaggerated the perceived hygiene problem significantly, and to a greater degree every time you've told it.

  • Any significant discussion regarding these matters or any others is conducted via email or text, with a preference for email. I believe that the written record helps avoid ambiguity and mis-remembering, and is generally beneficial for all parties acting in good faith. I will generally refuse to have these conversations in person for that reason.

  • You shall not interpret the contract or the law in bad faith. The argument was made that your email was a valid notification and that I had turned you away inappropriately. Whether this was genuinely your and [AGENT]'s belief I do not know

  • All of the above also applies to any other parties acting on your behalf, [AGENT] included.

  • Some relevant links here and here, and comments here. In short, the answer is: no. – Steve Melnikoff Jan 26 '17 at 15:11
  • I wouldn't call them hostile, but antisocial – jiggunjer Jan 27 '17 at 5:34
  • Change the locks. It's completely legal to do so, and simple for most doors, only needing a screwdriver (youtube for "change a barrel lock"), and will only cost about £20. – AndyT Aug 3 '17 at 11:11
  • If this is a viewing for tenants to replace you, I'd make it very uncomfortable for them. Say things like "Are you here to fix the hygiene problem?" And "I was asleep, the landlord didn't get my permission for this visit" when they find you in the house. – rjmunro Feb 6 '18 at 13:31
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Section 11(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 says

In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

There is also an absolute right to enter in an emergency (such as fire). Note that the law does not require tenant permission (a landlord may obviously enter for any reason with permission): the law says when he may do so without permission. If the "viewing" is related to repairs, then you just have to accept it. However, "viewing" usually means "showing prospective new tenants". In that case, there is the 28 day end-of-tenancy entry right which, if you didn't omit anything, is not relevant. In light of the common law right to quiet enjoyment, you have the right to exclude the landlord (or anyone else) absent a statutorily expressed override.

Permission can be inferred by word or action under common law, for example if a person appears at the door and you open it wide and step aside, you have implicitly granted permission even if you didn't say "I hereby permit". Explicitly denying permission (even once) eliminates any reasonable possibility of inferring permission. If you had gotten an email saying "we'll come by at 4:30" and you reply "Alrighteo, see you then", that can reasonably be interpreted as permission. If you do not reply, they cannot infer permission (obviously: X sending a message to Y does not entail that Y received or read the message).

If a person does not have a right to enter property, then doing so by force constitutes trespass, which is plainly against the law.

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