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Can a Landlord Renovate an Occupied Property?


The short answer is that yes, a landlord can undertake renovations on a property that is currently occupied by tenants. However, this is subject to several conditions and legal obligations

Can a Landlord Renovate an Occupied Property?

Landlords often need to renovate properties in order to keep them safe and in good condition for current and potential tenants. Ideally, the property will be permanently tenanted - but in such cases, can a landlord renovate an occupied property while the tenants live there?

Carrying out renovations and repair work in a tenanted property can be a complex process for private landlords. There are clear legal guidelines in the UK that offer insight into the rights and responsibilities of landlords to their tenants.

These guidelines protect the interests of the tenant while also permitting the landlord to maintain and improve their property as the need arises. With this in mind, it is vitally important landlords give ample notice before commencing any work, and balance the needs and rights of their tenants with the need to carry out any required work on the property.

This guide explores the key considerations for landlords when carrying out renovations and necessary repairs in an occupied property. If you have any questions we have not covered, the specialist landlord solicitors at Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors are able to answer your landlord query and provide any related legal services you need. You can contact us by completing the enquiry form below or by calling 0151 666 9090.

Is a Landlord Able to Renovate an Occupied Property?

The short answer is that yes, a landlord can undertake renovations on a property that is currently occupied by tenants. However, this is subject to several conditions and legal obligations. Many of these will be determined by your individual situation. If you are unsure which rules apply or how to meet your legal obligations, it is wise to seek legal advice.

Here is a brief look into various aspects of the potential problems landlords may encounter:

Understanding Legal and Contractual Obligations

UK housing laws and the specific terms of the tenancy agreement play a crucial role in determining what kind of renovations can be undertaken. They also differ if you are a private landlord compared with a commercial landlord. All landlords need to familiarise themselves with legal guidelines and ensure that any proposed changes comply with these laws.

Renovation Needs vs. Tenant Rights

While landlords have the right to carry out repairs and improvements when they are necessary, this must be balanced against the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment, which we will explain below. This includes considering the nature and urgency of the renovation and its impact on the tenant's quiet enjoyment. If your property is in a constant state of renovation, this may be considered a violation of the tenant's rights. On the other hand, if you need to carry out repair work on the property temporarily and you take reasonable steps to accommodate the tenant, this is within your rights as the landlord.

Different Types of Renovations

Renovations can range from essential maintenance work that is crucial for the property's safety and habitability, to extensive remodelling projects aimed at updating the property or increasing its value. The approach to each can differ significantly in terms of planning, legal permissions, and tenant communication.
Notices and Permissions
The requirement to provide reasonable notice to the tenant and obtain permissions before starting renovation work is very important. How much notice must be given and whether tenant consent is needed can depend on the nature of the proposed works.

Tenant Relations and Satisfaction

How renovations are communicated and managed can greatly affect tenant satisfaction. Transparent communication, respect for tenant privacy, and minimising disruption are vital for maintaining good landlord-tenant relationships.

Impact on Tenancy and Occupancy

Landlords should also consider how renovations might impact the tenant’s use of the property, including any potential need for temporary rehousing and rent adjustments.

Does a Tenant Need to Consent to Renovation Work?

Whether a tenant needs to give consent is not always a straightforward answer. The requirement for consent can depend on a few factors, including the scope of the renovations and the terms of the tenancy agreement. Some considerations include:

  • The type of renovation - Essential repairs and maintenance typically do not require tenant consent. However, significant changes that affect the tenant’s use of the property may need consent.
  • The tenancy agreement - Your tenancy agreement should outline the conditions for maintenance and renovation works. Sometimes, the lease agreement will stipulate the conditions under which the landlord can undertake renovations, and the notice that needs to be given.
  • Legal obligations - The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to keep their properties in a good state of repair. If the work needs to be carried out to fulfil these legal responsibilities and keep the property safe, tenant consent may not be needed. However, this is a relatively grey area and taking legal advice before you proceed is always sensible.

Landlords should seek consent in writing where it is needed. This approach not only ensures clarity but also helps in avoiding disputes further down the line.

If a tenant refuses consent for renovations deemed necessary or reasonable, landlords may need to seek advice from an expert solicitor. The resolution might involve negotiation, mediation, or, in extreme cases, legal intervention and an appearance in court.

What Is a Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment?

The concept of "quiet enjoyment" is a fundamental right granted to tenants and forms an integral part of the structure of the landlord-tenant relationship in the UK.

It entitles tenants to use their rented property without unreasonable disturbance from their landlord or the landlord's letting agents. This right extends to freedom from significant disruption during renovations of rental properties.

While landlords have the right to maintain and improve their property, this right must be balanced against the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment. Intrusive or lengthy renovations that severely disrupt the tenant's living conditions might violate this right. 

Even necessary repairs should be carried out in a manner and time that minimises inconvenience to the tenant. Excessive noise, dust, or loss of amenities (like water or electricity) need careful management. While it is often reasonable to argue that most repairs are necessary, you are still at risk of infringing on the tenant's rights if you do not take care.

In addition to this, renovations should be scheduled at reasonable times and for a reasonable duration, with efforts made to reduce the overall impact on tenants. This is the best way to maintain good relationships with tenants in the long term.

What Is Classed as 'Major Works'?

Major works generally refer to substantial renovations or repairs that significantly affect the property and the tenant's use of it. These can include structural changes, major refurbishments, or extensive repairs.

Examples of this include converting whole rooms, replacing the roof, carrying out extensive electrical rewiring, installing a new heating system, or undertaking significant exterior work like rendering or replacing windows.

This type of work needs much more consideration as these jobs are likely to cause more disruption to tenants, potentially affecting their living conditions. This might involve noise, dust, or even temporary loss of essential services. If the landlord intends to carry out work like this, they must inform tenants about the nature, extent, and timeline of any major repairs.

How Much Notice Should a Landlord Give to Their Tenant for a Renovation?

Figuring out the appropriate amount of notice a landlord must give to a tenant before beginning renovation works is crucial. The notice period can vary depending on the nature and urgency of the work, but there are general guidelines to be followed.

Standard Notice: For planned renovations, especially those that are not urgent, landlords are typically expected to give at least 24 to 48 hours' notice. However, for more substantial works, a longer notice period is advisable and often appreciated by tenants. What is deemed “reasonable” can be open to interpretation, and legal advice can help you to ensure you meet your obligations.

Emergencies: In cases of emergency repairs (e.g., fixing a broken heating system in winter, or a water leak), immediate access may be necessary, and the notice might be very short. You can read our guide on “Can A Landlord Enter Without Permission” here. 

Minor vs Major Works: Major works generally need a longer notice period compared to minor repairs or improvements, as they are more disruptive.

Consideration of Impact: For renovations that significantly impact the tenant's use of the property (like bathroom or kitchen refurbishments), providing as much notice as possible allows tenants to make suitable arrangements.

Giving adequate notice is not just a legal requirement but also a best practice in maintaining a positive relationship with tenants. It demonstrates respect and consideration for the tenant's rights and comfort.

When Should Landlords Provide Alternative Accommodation?

One critical aspect of managing renovations in tenanted properties is determining when it becomes necessary for landlords to provide alternative accommodation for their tenants. This situation typically arises when the living conditions during renovation could severely disrupt the tenant’s daily living or endanger them in some way.

Some key considerations are:

  • Inhabitable Conditions: If the renovations are extensive enough to render the property uninhabitable - for instance, if key facilities like bathrooms or kitchens are out of use - landlords should consider offering alternative accommodation.
  • Safety and Health Concerns: Situations that might compromise the safety or health of the occupants, such as significant structural work, might necessitate relocation.
  • Tenancy Agreement: The tenancy agreement might have specific clauses addressing this issue. Landlords should review these clauses to understand their obligations.
  • Statutory Duties: Under UK law, landlords have a duty to ensure the property is safe and fit for habitation at all times. If renovations compromise this, alternative arrangements should be made.

Generally, the cost of providing alternative accommodation falls on the landlord, particularly if the need for relocation arises from the landlord's actions or renovations.

Ideally, both parties should reach an understanding about what circumstances would warrant alternative accommodation.

Can Tenants Ask for Reduced Rent During Renovations?

In the UK, there's no automatic legal right to a rent reduction for tenants during renovations. However, tenants can negotiate or request a reduction based on the inconvenience and impact.

If renovations significantly disrupt everyday living - such as if they involve noise, dust, or a loss of essential facilities - tenants might have grounds to ask for a rent reduction.

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to discuss the situation openly and reach a mutually agreeable solution. Any rent reduction should be proportional to the extent of the inconvenience and the part of the property that is unusable.

The specifics of the tenancy agreement should be reviewed, as some contracts might include clauses relevant to renovations and rent adjustments.

In cases where an agreement cannot be reached directly, mediation might be a viable option. In contentious situations, consulting with a legal professional can help clarify landlord rights and options.

How Can Percy Hughes & Roberts Help?

At Percy Hughes & Roberts, we understand that the relationship between landlords and tenants can be complex and sometimes contentious, especially during times of renovation and repair. Our experienced team offers tailored legal advice and support to ensure that both landlords and tenants navigate these situations with a clear understanding of their rights and obligations.

With our legal expertise, we are well-equipped to provide support and guidance on any issues arising before, during, or after property renovations. If you have any other questions regarding carrying out renovations in an occupied property, or questions on landlord law more generally, you can contact our expert Wirral landlord solicitors today.

For more information on our landlord services, do not hesitate to contact our expert solicitors today. Call us on 0151 666 9090, or send us your query by email by filling in our online contact form.

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