Renting a Property
This article is part of the Ten Step Law series and is written by Roddy Tyrrell who is a Board Member of the Property Registration Authority (inc Land Registry). If you need property solicitor advice, you can contact Roddy at Tyrrell Solicitors, Dublin on 01-6771476 or submit an online enquiry.
1. Do your homework before you rent a property
The main attractions of being a tenant is you do not have to face the short term risks and associated responsibilities of having a mortgage and buying in the current property market. You may not be able to afford to buy the property of your dreams in your favourite location but you may be able to afford to rent it.
No one wants the tenant or landlord from hell so be prepared to do your homework before you rent a property. You must decide how much rent you can afford to pay, if you will need to rent with other tenants and their ability to pay their rent. The area and type of property you can afford to rent will depend on these factors.
It is important to note that you should not pay more than the open market rent having regard to the terms of the lease (or tenancy) and the rent charged for properties of a similar size, type and character and located in a similar area.
2. Landlords may require the following information:
(a) References from previous landlords.
(b) References from employers.
(c) If you are unemployed you may be entitled to rent supplement from the Health Service Executive (HSE). Your rent will have to be below the maximum rent level set for your county by the HSE for you to avail of rent supplement.
You should get confirmation of the amount of rent supplement you are entitled too from the HSE.
For further information please go to http://www.hse.ie/eng/Find_a_Service
(d) If you and the other tenants are students your parents may be required to act as guarantors to the lease.
3. The Interview
When your prospective landlord is satisfied that you and the other tenants will be able to pay the rent the next step is the interview. This is a great chance to take a good look at the state of the property. You and the other tenants should be satisfied that the property is free from damp, in good structural repair, has hot and cold water, adequate means of heating and ventilation, appliances in good working order, electrical wiring, gas and pipes in good repair.
Please be aware that equality law prohibits landlords from refusing to offer accommodation or from terminating a tenancy on any of the following nine grounds: gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race, member of the traveller community. If you or any of the other prospective tenants feel you have discriminated against you can instruct Tyrrell solicitors to commence court proceedings on your behalf.
4. Lease and contents list
You should take a picture of the state of the property and its contents as this may help prevent disputes about damaged or broken items.
If you are offered a written lease agreement take your time and read it carefully. If you are unsure of the meaning of some of the terms of the lease or you feel unhappy with some of the terms Tyrrell Solicitors can explain them or try and renegotiate the terms of the lease on your behalf. You should always make sure you understand and are happy with everything in the lease before you sign it.
Once you and the other tenants sign the lease the first months rent and one months rent in advance as a deposit must be paid to the landlord.
5. Landlords obligations and tenants rights
(a) Provide you and the other tenants with rent books.
Your landlord is legally obliged to provide all tenants with rent books containing information on the lease (tenancy), a record of all payments made by all tenants, details of furnishings and appliances and a statement of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.
(b) Register the property with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).
(c )Your landlord may not penalise you or the other tenants for referring a dispute to PRTB.
(d) Must not charge a rent that exceeds the market rent.
(e) Repair and maintain the structure of the residential property.
(f)Repair and maintain the interior of the property.
(g) Reimburse you and the other tenants for expenditure on repairs that should have been carried out by the landlord.
(h) Provide you and other tenants with information about any person who is authorised to deal on the landlord’s behalf. Ensure you and other tenants are able to contact the landlord or the landlord’s agent at reasonable times.
(i) Allow you and other tenants to enjoy peaceful and exclusive occupation.
(k) The landlord must ensure that you and the other tenants are aware of their obligations and comply with them. It is worth noting that if you and the other tenants are adversely affected by tenant’s behaviour in other privately rented properties a complaint can be made to the PRTB against their landlord. For other types of property you can instruct Tyrrell solicitors to commence court proceedings on your behalf.
(l) Return any deposit due to you and other tenants (unless you or other tenants have not paid the rent or have caused damage to the property).
(m)Serve you and the other tenants with a valid notice of termination
(n) Security of tenure-from six months to four years
For the first six months of the lease the landlord will be free to terminate it without giving a reason. After the first six months you and the other tenants will be entitled to rent your property for four years. This is known as security of tenure or Part 4 tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004 (“The Act”).
The landlord and you and the other tenants are prohibited from entering into a lease that changes the provisions contained in Part 4 of the Act unless the landlord gives you and the other tenants greater security of tenure than provided under the Act.
Each subsequent part four tenancy is called a “further Part 4 tenancy” and exists after 4 years unless you and the other tenants or the landlord serves a valid termination notice.
The terms of each successive Part 4 tenancy remain the same as the first unless varied by agreement between the landlord and you and the other tenants.
It is worth noting that security of tenure protection afforded by Part 4 of the Act does not apply in certain limited circumstances:
(a) Where a rented unit is part of a property that was sub-divided and you live in the remainder of the property. The landlord can opt out of the Act. The landlord is required to give written notice of this opt out to you and the other tenants before the tenancy is entered into.
(b) Part 4 does not apply to employment-related accommodation.
(c) Part 4 does not apply to ‘section 50’ student accommodation.
6. Tenant’s obligations and landlords' rights
(a) Pay the correct rent on the due date.
(b) Pay other charges or taxes as they fall due in accordance with the lease.
(c) Both you and the other tenants and the landlord can seek a rent review after 12 months. Reviews can take place no more frequently than once a year unless there has been a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation. The landlord must notify you and the other tenants of the new rent at least 28 days before it is to take effect. If you and the other tenants consider that the new rent is above the going market rate contact the PRTB before it is due to take effect within 28 days from the receipt of the notice, whichever is the later.
(d) The landlord is entitled to receive notification of any repairs required and be allowed access to carry out repairs and (by appointment) for routine inspections.
(e) Pay the costs for repair of damage caused by if you and the other tenant’s actions cause damage the landlord is entitled to the costs of repair.
(f) Inform the landlord if you and the other tenants intend on renting the property after six months.
(g) Inform the landlord of anyone ordinarily residing in the property.
(h) Terminate a lease.
(i)Ensure no act or omission by you and the other tenants causes the landlord to be in breach of the law.
(j)You and the other tenants must not engage in or allow anti-social behaviour or act in a way that would invalidate the landlord’s insurance.
(k)You and the other tenants must not assign, sub-let, alter, improve or change the use of the dwelling without the landlord’s written consent.
(l)You and the other tenants must notify the landlord before the last month of a fixed term tenancy of the intention to avail of the protection afforded by Part 4 of the Act (i.e. to remain in the tenancy for a period of up to 4 years)
(m)Provide the landlord with the information required so as to register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).
7. Protection for Sub-Tenancies
A sub-tenancy is created when you and the other tenants do not wish to occupy the tenancy for the entire term and let the property to other people. You and the other tenants are now the head-tenants and the people allowed into occupation are the sub-tenants.
You and the other head-tenants will generally remain legally liable for the payment of the rent to the landlord, whether or not the subtenants pay it.
You and the other tenants can only create a sub-tenancy with the landlord’s written consent, which can be refused for no stated reason.
Where a landlord refuses consent to sub-let a fixed term tenancy for example a six months tenancy then you and the other tenants may terminate the tenancy before the expiry of the fixed term of six months.
If you and the other tenants sublet, then the sub-tenant’s rights and obligations are the same as you and the other tenants would have had. The sub-tenant inherits the balance of your and the other head-tenant’s Part 4 tenancy. In general, you and the other head tenants have entered a landlord-tenant relationship with the sub-tenant and the standard rights and obligations applying to landlords and tenants apply.
8. Terminating a sub-tenancy
You and the other head-tenants may terminate a sub-tenancy in the same way as any other landlord and the sub-tenant may terminate a tenancy in the same way as any other tenant. The landlord may also terminate the sub-tenancy. In this instance the landlord is required to serve a notice of termination on you and the other head-tenants. That notice must include a specific requirement to terminate the sub-tenancy. The landlord must serve a copy of the notice on the sub-tenant.
9. A landlord may terminate a head tenancy without terminating the subtenancy.
On receipt of a termination notice indicating that the termination of the sub-tenancy is not required, you and the other head-tenants are obliged to inform the sub-tenant within 28 days of the details of the termination notice. Where a head-tenancy but not the subtenancy is terminated, the sub-tenants then become the direct tenants of the landlord and the Part 4 tenancy continues.
If you and the other head-tenants refer a dispute as to the validity of a termination notice to the PRTB’s dispute resolution service, then you and the head-tenants must notify the sub-tenants of that referral and the sub-tenants may join in the dispute.
10. Where you and the other tenants transfer the tenancy to other people
An assignment arises where you and the other tenants do not wish to occupy the tenancy for the entire term and transfers the tenancy to other people who become the tenant of the landlord. You and the other original tenants have no further involvement in the tenancy. Assignments require the landlord’s consent and effectively involve the creation of a new tenancy. Therefore, the other people also called assignee tenants do not inherit you and the other tenants Part 4 tenancy. The assignee tenants commence their own 6-month qualifying period.
If you wish Tyrrell Solicitors can provide you with legal advice or on your instructions act on your behalf.