Is a landlord obliged to give notice for maintainance?

John asks:
(updated on Friday, June 27th 2008)

A friend of mine owns a house converted into two flats. Both became vacant recently with a tenant moving into one before the tenant in the second one vacated. My friend is now doing the cleaning and arranging basic maintenance in the second flat (she did consider moving in) before tenants move in. I do the lawns and similar work on the exterior. We tend to do the gardens together. Now the existing tenant is complaining that this is disturbing her right to privacy (from the landlord). I own a set of three flats that I similarly maintain and have not had a similar problem in 20 years. What is the legal situation here?

Our Experts Answer:

While a landlord must give a tenant notice to enter that tenant’s premises (ie, their flat), notice is not required if the landlord is simply coming onto the property (including areas of the property that are shared by both flats). However, a landlord does have to respect the tenant’s right to reasonable peace, comfort and privacy. Whether the tenant’s privacy is unreasonably breached by the landlord’s presence on areas that are shared by both flats will vary depending on the circumstances. I suggest that your friend speaks with their tenant about their concerns and about the maintenance they intend to do on the property and the times they are likely to be present there to do that maintenance. They may have to reach an agreement with the tenant about times for maintenance that accommodates both the landlord’s need to do the work and the tenant’s right to privacy in the property. It might also be a good opportunity to ask if there is any maintenance that the tenant would like done on their property while the landlord is on the property - a ‘win-win’ for all concerned.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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