A high-profile court case has revealed cracks in property viewings guidance for landlords and lettings agents.
Tenant – antiques dealer Hari Virk – was cleared of assaulting estate agents who arranged viewings without his consent after his landlord put the £2.2 million Knightsbridge home on the market.
Virk claimed the agents from Limetrees International arrived for viewings at short notice and while he was in the house, so wrote to them saying that he objected to further viewings “until this blasé approach ceased”.
Virk claimed that Amal and Paddy Eid then used their key to enter the flat and a row began, which both filmed on their phones.
He was charged and later cleared of assaulting the mother but convicted of assault against the son. He appealed to the crown court, where the case was dismissed. Paddy Eid, director of Limetrees, denied any improper behaviour.
Paul Henson (pictured), real estate disputes manager at Irwin Mitchell, tells The Negotiator that there may be some confusion about notice periods for property viewings.
He says most, if not all, assured short-hold tenancies require landlords to give reasonable notice to tenants for viewings, which is usually – but not always – 48 hours.
Tenants are also entitled to the covenant of ‘quiet enjoyment’, undisturbed by landlords or agents.
“Turning up unannounced is not a good idea, nor is it wise to let yourself in as you could then open yourself up to claims that property has been taken,” says Henson.
“Just sending an email and not getting a response before turning up might not be sufficient either – ideally agents should make a phone call.
And if a tenant says it’s not convenient they should take that into account – especially in the current climate where people might be shielding or isolating.”