Can I stop my landlady storing stuff in my attic, and coming in uninvited?
Property Clinic: Your questions answered
I am paying top dollar to rent a house in the city centre, but it turns out that the landlady is storing stuff in the attic of this house. She did not tell me this before I moved in, but I get the impression that if I had objected she would have quickly let the house to someone else. There is not a lot of storage anywhere else in the house and I wouldn’t mind having an attic for storage, but what’s more serious is that the landlady lets herself into the house on a fairly regular basis to put stuff in the attic or remove it. Can she do this? I don’t like the idea of her roaming around the house when I am not there.
The situation you describe is somewhat unusual. You should revert straight back to the lease agreement you signed up to at the beginning of your tenancy. Go to the “Definitions and Interpretations” section of this document and look for the “Property” heading. It is generally at the very start of a lease agreement.
This should clearly outline and describe what is the “Property” and sets out areas inside and outside the property that the tenant has (or has not) use of. In some cases, it will refer to the attic. Maybe she has covered the fact that the use of the attic is not part of the property which you rent, although that would be very unusual. If it is not clear from the Definitions and Interpretations section then the attic question may be covered in a special conditions section in the agreement. If it is not, then I would suggest you simply approach the landlady and make a request to use the attic and ask her to remove her items. This would be a fair and reasonable request and should not be met with too much resistance. In saying that, she may respond by saying she has no other storage facility and is not prepared to go to the added expense of paying for storage which will eat into her rental income on which she already pays high tax. Open and honest communication is the best approach on this matter.
In regard to the landlady entering the house, it is not clear from your question whether or not you have given her permission? I am going to assume you have not given her permission to enter the property in your absence or otherwise.
The simple answer is no, a landlord may not enter the property while you are not there if you have not given permission to do so. This is a major breach of a landlord’s obligation to offer you quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the property.
In your lease there will be provisions where, with fair and reasonable notice, (typically 2-3 days’ notice) the landlord may enter the property but they must contact you to get permission to do so. Write a firm but friendly email to your landlady asking her to contact you before entering the property.
However, in cases of emergency the landlord and/or a representative can access the property without giving you notice. This might be in situations such as a suspected fire or gas leak but not limited to these.
Marcus O’Connor is a chartered surveyor and property manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie