Who is a tenant?
If you pay rent to a landlord for the use of accommodation you are a tenant. Your legal rights and responsibilities are set out in landlord/tenant law as well as from any lease or tenancy agreement between you and your landlord.
As a tenant, you are entitled to:
- Quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home;
- Certain minimum standards of accommodation;
- A new lease for the tenancy;
- A rent book;
- Contact the landlord or their agent at any reasonable times;
- Your landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If the landlord needs to carry out repairs or inspect the premises, it should be by prior arrangement, except in an emergency;
- Reimbursement for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord's responsibility;
- Have friends to stay overnight or for short periods, unless specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement. You must tell your landlord about an extra person moving in;
- Certain amount of notice of the termination of your tenancy;
- Refer any disputes to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) without being penalised for doing so;
- A copy of any register entry held by the PRTB dealing with your tenancy;
- Since 1 January 2009, all homes for rent must have a Building Energy Rating (BER). A BER will inform you how energy-efficient the home is. It will help you make an informed choice when comparing properties to rent.
Paying for services
When the tenant pays for utilities, it should be written into the rent book along with all receipts as proof of payment.
Increasing the rent
Landlords can increase your rent only once during a 12 month period (unless there has been a substantial change to the accommodation) after the service of a 28 days’ notice of same.
Termination of a tenancy by the landlord
Valid notice must:
- Be in writing and specify the date of service
- Be signed by the landlord or his or her authorised agent or, as appropriate, the tenant.
- State the reason for termination
Notice periods for the termination of a tenancy by the landlord
||Period of Tenancy
||Less than 6 months
||6 months or more but less than 1 year
||1 year or more but less than 2 years
||2 years or more but less than 3 years
||3 years or more but less than 4 years
||4 or more years
The landlord and tenant may agree a shorter period of notice, but this can only be agreed at the time the notice is given.
Who is a landlord?
A landlord is the owner of a property who leases or rents it to another person. As a landlord of private, rented accommodation, you are legally obliged to register each tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies’ Board.
What are my rights as a landlord?
(Residential Tenancies Act 2004)
- Set the rent, once a year, according to the current market rent.
- Receive the rent from a tenant on the date it is due.
- Pay any charges related to the property e.g. taxes and duties.
- End the tenancy without reason within the first six months of the lease agreement. However, special care should be taken when dealing with fixed term tenancies as a reason will always have to be given.
- Be informed of who is living in the property.
- Decide whether to allow sub-letting by the tenant.
- Be informed of any repairs needed and be granted reasonable access to fix them.
- Refer disputes to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) once the tenancy is registered.
What if the tenant breaches his/her obligations?
- If a tenant breaches his or her obligations under the Act, then 28 days’ notice needs only be given, regardless of the duration of the tenancy.
- This should be preceded by a warning notice, allowing a reasonable opportunity to remedy the breach if it is a tenancy of 6 months or over.
- Generally no preliminary notice needs to be served in respect of a fixed term tenancy.
- If the breach concerns non-payment of rent, a prior notification of arrears must have been sent to the tenant with 14 days having passed before a valid notice of Termination giving 28 days’ notice is served.
- If termination is required for serious anti-social behaviour (as defined in section 17(1) of the Act), then a notice of Termination may be served giving just a 7 day notice period.
What to do at the end of the tenancy?
Tenancies are lawfully terminated either on expiry of the fixed term or for breach of the letting conditions, (or for periodic tenancies, upon the expiry of a valid notice of termination).
- Arrange a time with the tenant for a final inspection of the dwelling.
- If an inventory on the dwelling was provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy, you should go through this with the tenant and identify any damages over and above normal wear and tear.
- Right to have property returned at end of tenancy in reasonable repair: If the property is not in a reasonably clean and tidy condition, it should be agreed with the tenant how the cleaning is to be done; the tenant can undertake to carry out the cleaning or you can undertake this and the cost to be deducted from the deposit.
- Seek confirmation that the tenant will close any accounts with utilities, such as ESB, Gas etc., on leaving.
- If possible seek the tenant’s new address and new telephone number (to forward any correspondence).
- Return the keys and refund the deposit.
Paying back a deposit to a tenant
When the tenancy ends, you are obliged to return the deposit to your tenant. A landlord may withhold a deposit, partially or in total, from a tenant if any of the following have occurred:
- The tenant has not given proper notice of termination of the tenancy resulting in loss.
- The tenant left outstanding bills or rent when leaving the accommodation.
- The tenant has damaged the accommodation beyond usual wear and tear.
There is a general duty on the landlord to mitigate any losses.
The foregoing relates to Residential property; however we also provide advice on Business and Commercial Leases.
For further information and advice, contact us at McInerney Solicitors. We can provide advice in respect of matters which may arise in taking a claim to the Private Residential Tenancies Board and we also represent clients before the board at the hearing of the matter when a dispute arises.