Rights of entry can be a thorny topic between landlords and tenants. The Court of Appeal decision in Rees v Windsor-Clive  EWCA Civ 816 (1 July 2020) provides helpful guidance in relation to the interpretation of such rights.
In this case, the landlord wanted to exercise rights of entry on farmland to carry out an ecological survey in relation to bats including leaving bat detectors on the farm and having surveyors on the land during the night. The tenant failed to obtain an injunction at the High Court to prevent this, appealing to the Court of Appeal where he also lost. Consideration needs to be given to the principle of non-derogation from grant when construing such rights and the court noted that, whilst this may go against that any interpretation which would result in a substantial or serious interference with the tenant's use and enjoyment of the demised premises or frustrate the purpose of the lease, it does not mean that the court is required to give a right of entry the narrowest possible interpretation. This finding will be welcome news for landlords.
As ever, context is king, both in terms of the lease as a whole and the wording of the reserved right. One of the rights in Rees was a right to enter for a specific purpose. In interpreting the purpose, if it was a reasonable purpose, the proper interpretation of the right must enable the landlord to do what is “reasonably necessary” to achieve that purpose (which is not the same as "convenient" or "desirable”).
However, the purpose itself may be held not to be reasonable if what the landlord wants to do (or what is reasonably necessary to do) in order to achieve it is highly intrusive. The timing of the exercise of the right may also be relevant; something that is reasonable in the daytime may be unreasonable at night but clearly in this case, the relevant monitoring could only be undertaken at night.