Landlord ask to vacate rented apartment during the sell - is it legal?

Hi. I just learned that the apartment which I have been renting for over a year will be sold. I have a month notice which I will receive as soon as they have a new owner. The landlord asked me to vacate the flat (leave the flat physically and stay away) during his appointments with the agent and potential buyers. There will be multiple appointments - for taking photographs of the flat and the subsequent viewing with potential buyers - during which, according t him, I cannot be present in the flat. While the decision about the selling came unexpectedly, and I was misguided when I moved in (they assured me that this is long let when in fact they were planing to leave this spring all the way through) I do not want to stand in the way, However, I do feel that asking me to leave the flat I am paying for (in central London, meaning quite a great sum of money), even for few hours of the viewing or photographing, is neither nice nor legal. Can a landlord ask his tenant to stay away from a property she/he is renting? Does it not breach the right to privacy and undisturbed living?

I would be grateful for any advice you might have. Many thanks!

You are absolutely correct. It is neither nice nor legal and the landlord’s demand for you to vacate your home at his convenience 100% contravenes your right to peace and privacy, just as you say. It is your home; you have legal possession. Your contract will likely have a clause about being left in peace wherever possible and there should also be mention of the legal requirement for a landlord to give at least 24hrs notice for all visits (apart from in an emergency and/or where you are genuinely uncontactable or by mutual agreement.)

This is not a reasonable demand from the landlord and while it is expected that you should allow viewings etc., where possible (and with at least 24hrs notice given as mentioned) I would very strongly advise against your being out of your own property while strangers are in.

The fact he/she has demanded this rings alarm bells for me; what’s the problem with your being there?
What a bloo*y cheek!
Stay calm. Politely decline ‘access to my property in my absence’ but say you will try to accommodate viewings with suitable notice given where you are available. You may wish to suggest they ask you first.
Don’t elaborate or quote from the contract at this stage as this may aggravate. Keep it simple. Document all exchanges in case he access is gained or attempted while you are out.

Peter B
Member NLA (accred)

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This is so very helpful, Peter, many thanks. So your advice is to stay in the flat during all visits and viewing, including the photography of the apartment, and decline if I am asked to leave. This was precisely my initial intuition. There is one aspect of the situation which I should mention. Because I am in the middle of a semester (being an academic), my hands are bound at the moment because I simply cannot afford to invest time in the search for a new apartment. I feel that when I agree to my landlord’s conditions, I will probably be able to stay here two-three months longer, until they found a buyer and completed the legal work. Otherwise, I have a 30 days notice which can be handed in anytime. But I dread the feeling of having strangers here on a regular basis, even if my landlord warns me few days in advance. For instance, I was able to propose the date of the photography appointment (the date when I am expected to leave the flat) so, in fact, they do accommodate my schedule. Still, there is something uncanny about leaving my home to strangers, even if they were accompanied by my landlords, since I ceased to trust them after I heard the news about the sell.

Again, any suggestions or advice will be hugely appreciated. Big thanks in advance. Hanna

Hi Hanna, really sorry to hear about this situation!

I’d agree with the points @Peter made about your right to peaceful enjoyment of the property, 24 hours’ notice for access and being able to remain in the property during viewings (though I, too, am not a legal expert!)

If having people over poking through your home all the time causes you anxiety (as well it might!) you can refuse access whenever you want, as long as you’re reasonable about it. For example, you might say “I will give access for viewings at [time slot of your convenience] once a week.”

One thing I’d like to add is that it’s very unusual for a landlord to be required to give only one month’s notice. It is usually two months. I recently read this post by Tessa (who writes on legal topic for our blog sometimes) about whether a landlord can ever give one month’s notice, even if it says so in the contract.

As I always say, though, it is best to come to some agreement with the landlord about how to proceed wherever possible.

Finally, my top tip! You mention being an academic in London. If you are at a University of London college, then you can probably use their fantastic housing support service.

Even though they refuse to recommend OpenRent to new students(!), I will not stop recommending them, because they’re fantastic people :slight_smile:

Many thanks for your advice, Sam, it all sounds very reasonable.

Can someone else speak to the legal side of things? I would much appreciate suggestions.

The staff accommodation website that you mentioned is helpful but also populated by inactive adds. I feel that the offers that can be found there are very limited.

All best, Hanna

Hi Hanna,

While we’re not legally trained, there are organisations that are able to provide more comprehensive help and legal advice. The first place we’d suggest is Shelter’s livechat or helpline:

They’re open 365 days a year, and they’ll be able to provide free advice on the best next steps to take here.