The rental scene in Ireland reached a crisis-level due to chronic housing shortage. The cost of rent has increased by over 12.6% compared to last year. Years of housing undersupply, coupled with an exodus of small landlords from the market, has led to a dire situation for renters. This piece aims to clarify legal entitlements for students who are a particularly vulnerable cohort of renters.
Your main rights and responsibilities as a tenant come from The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the lease or tenancy agreement you have with your landlord.
Leases or other tenancy agreements cannot take away from your rights under the legislation. However, you and your landlord can agree on matters not covered by legislation in a lease or tenancy agreement; for example, who pays for the utility bills.
If you are renting a room in your landlord’s home you are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation, although you are covered if you rent a self-contained flat in your landlord’s home.
An eviction ban is in place from 30 October 2022 to 31 March 2023. This means that if you are renting private rented accommodation, you cannot be evicted during these months, even if you have been issued with a valid notice of termination. However, the eviction ban does not apply if you do not keep your tenant obligations.
Your Rights as a Private Tenant
- You are entitled to the quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home.
- You are entitled to certain minimum standards of accommodation.
- You are entitled to a rent book.
- You have the right to contact the landlord or their agent at any reasonable time. You are also entitled to have the correct contact information for them (telephone number, etc.).
- aYour landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If your landlord needs to repair or inspect the property, it should be arranged in advance, unless it is an emergency.
- You are entitled to be reimbursed for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord’s responsibility.
- You are entitled to have visitors stay overnight or for short periods, unless specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement. You must tell your landlord if you have an extra person moving in.
- You are entitled to a certain amount of notice if your tenancy is being terminated. This depends on how long you have resided on the premises.
- You are entitled to at least 90 days’ notice if your landlord wants to review the rent, and there are rules about how often they can do this.
- You are entitled to refer any disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalised.
Your Rights as a Tenant in Student-Specific Accommodation
Tenants in student-specific accommodation are protected in residential tenancies legislation. For the most part, you maintain the same rights as private tenants. For example, you can access the RTB’s dispute resolution process and your tenancy must be registered with the RTB. However, there are some differences, for example, tenants in student-specific accommodation do not have security of tenure. This rule came in under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.
If you are a tenant in student-specific accommodation you only need to give your landlord 28 days’ notice when ending a tenancy. You can give your landlord more notice if you want. This policy came in under the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021.
Security of Tenure
Security of tenure is a tenant’s right to stay in rented accommodation for a set amount of time. Generally, security of tenure applies automatically when you have been renting for 6 months and haven’t received a valid notice of termination from your landlord in that time. When you have security of tenure, your landlord can only terminate your tenancy for a limited number of reasons.
The amount of time you are entitled to stay in rented accommodation after the first 6 months depends on when your tenancy began.
If your tenancy was created after 10 June 2022, you have a tenancy of unlimited duration. This means if you have rented somewhere for 6 months, you have the right to stay in that accommodation indefinitely (no end date), unless the landlord wants to terminate your tenancy for one of the allowed reasons.
If your tenancy was created before 10 June 2022, you have the right to stay in your rented accommodation for up to 6 years after you have rented for 6 months. At the end of these 6 years, your landlord can end your tenancy without giving a reason, as allowed under the old rules. But, if the landlord does not end your tenancy at this stage, it automatically becomes a tenancy of unlimited duration and has no end date.
Paying and Reclaiming your Deposit
You will probably have to pay a security deposit when you agree to rent a property. The landlord holds this deposit as security to cover any rent arrears, bills owing or damage beyond normal wear and tear at the end of the tenancy.
You cannot be forced to make upfront payments of more than 2 month’s rent. This includes a deposit of one month’s rent and one month’s rent in advance. This restriction applies to all tenancies created from 9 August 2021 and is set out in the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021. Students in student-specific tenancies can opt-out of this restriction and pay a larger upfront payment if they want.
Threshold provides useful tips on what to consider before you pay a deposit, including information on how to spot a scam. Your landlord must give you an inventory of the contents of the property. You should keep a record of the condition of everything that is listed, take photos if possible, and agree this in writing with your landlord.
When you leave a property at the end of the agreed rental period or after giving the agreed notice, the landlord must return your security deposit, promptly and in full.
However, if you leave before the end of the agreed period, the landlord may keep your deposit, even if you have given notice. (You may also be liable for the amount of rent due until the end of the lease, depending on what is stated in the lease agreement.)
The landlord may keep part or all of the deposit in the following situations:
- Rent arrears
- Unpaid bills
- Damage above normal wear and tear
- If you have not given enough notice
The landlord cannot hold your possessions against money you owe, but they can apply to the RTB if they feel that your deposit does not cover rent arrears or the cost of damage to the property.
If you feel your rights as a tenant have been broken, you have a number of ways to correct this. Threshold provides a free advice and information service to tenants.Finally, if your landlorc is not maintaining the property to the proper standards you can contact your local authority, which is responsible for enforcing standards in rented housing.
Lee Martin – Law Correspondent
Featured image courtesy of Danielle DerGarabedian d