What are my minimum legal rights and obligations with regard to access?

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M
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WE let our flats to the local council and they sublet. We have HUGE problems getting access to carry out maintenance re: electricity checks, gas checks etc. The Council has a policy of having only one set of keys (they change the locks often). When a tenant is in the property we are allowed to contact them to make arrangements to get access at a time chosen by the tenant who will let our contractors in. When the properties are vacant the keys are (theoretically) available to us from the local town hall. In practice though, the tenants either don't reply to our requests or, if an arrangement is made, they are frequently not in at the agreed time, leaving us with expensive contractors charging by the hour and twiddling their thumbs. If the property is vacant, the keys are frequently not available to us o nthe day, even when we make prior arrangement i.e, can't be found, are out with other contractors.

We would like to keep our own set of keys and are happy to undertake to give the tenant plenty of notice with an invitation to change arrangements to a time convenient to them, but would like to simply be able to get in when we need to, providing the right notice has been given.

After all, without reasonable access it is difficult - we think - for the law to insist on our legal obligations. We have challenged the Council to either improve our access or absolve us of our obligations but they refuse to engage.

What would be 'reasonable access' and what is our position if we are constantly denied it?

Incidentally, reading this back it makes the Council look spectacularly crap so the question is, why do we do it? Answer: because they give us two year leases payable quarterly in advance and offer rents about 20% above the local market rate...! Enough said.

19/10/2009 00:00

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