Maples and Calder Ireland sponsor The College Tribune's Law Section
Maples and Calder Ireland sponsor The College Tribune’s Law Section

The college year brings thousands of students back to the overcrowded Dublin housing market making it nigh on impossible to find a house, but what are your rights when you do start renting? Once you do eventually find a place (which is no easy feat), you’ll then have to sign a lease, pay a deposit (maybe a couple of other things) and hey presto you’ve got a place. Of course, you’ve got to pay rent to a landlord you owe them that, but what do they owe you?

There are two pieces of law I’ll be referring to in this article the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019. Private landlords must provide access to a list of things that facilitate a basic living standard.

Sutherland School of Law
Sutherland School of Law. Photo credit: UCD

This includes providing tenants access to appliances that allow them to do their own laundry these being a washing machine and a clothes-dryer (if the property does not have its own private garden or yard). Access to communal facilities is enough to meet the standard.

For the purposes of storing and preparing food, there must be a 4-ring hob with an oven and grill, a fridge and freezer, a sink which provides hot and cold water and enough presses to store food in. Other things such as a functioning hot and cold shower and access to appropriate rubbish disposal facilities are required as well.

Contacting your landlord.

You are entitled to contact your landlord or your point of contact with the housing agency you may be renting from at any reasonable time. To facilitate this, you are entitled to their contact information which includes but is not limited to: email addresses, postal addresses and telephone numbers.

Right to privacy

Once you rent a property the rights that your landlord or their housing agent have to enter the property depend on how much of the property you are renting. If you are renting the entire property, they cannot entire the home without permission, though they still retain their rights to carry out inspections and repairs of the property.

They must get your permission to do this, it is important to note that there is no legal minimum notice period that is needed to have been given. This notice period is subject to what you and your landlord agree. If you are renting an individual room the landlord or their agents may enter the communal areas of the property without needing your permission as well as rooms that are not being rented (vacant bedrooms). The only time these restrictions on entry and the need for permission can be bypassed by a landlord/housing agent is when there is an emergency the most obvious example being a fire.

Residential Tenancies Board:

The RTB is a dispute resolution service for tenants and landlords, it is available to you (the tenant) even if your landlord has neglected to register the tenancy with them (your landlord cannot avail of the RTB if he has not registered the tenancy with them). There are time limits on referring disputes between you and your landlord to the RTB these vary between 28 and 90 days depending on the type of incident that has occurred but can be extended in exceptional circumstances. Any decision that this board makes is legally binding.

They also investigate certain issues without the need to go through the dispute resolution process and should be contacted if your landlord provides false reasons for ending your tenancy or looks for an advance payment or deposit of more than 2 months rent. Their investigations process is not limited to these incidences, and they will also investigate things such as if your landlord has not registered the tenancy with them within 1 month of the tenancy commencing.

Changes you can make:

It is important not to change the locks on your property without your landlords’ consent as they are allowed to retain a key to the property in the event of emergencies. When it comes to decorating the property, this depends on the agreement you have with your landlord and you may risk losing your deposit if there are holes left in your walls or other damage is done, if you are in doubt either consult your lease or contact your landlord to ask their permission.

Stéphane De Bairéid – Law Writer