If your landlord wants you to leave
The law on residential tenancies requires private landlords and approved housing bodies (housing associations) to follow certain procedures before asking a tenant to leave rented accommodation. They must also give the tenant a minimum amount of notice, depending on how long the tenancy has lasted.
Residential tenancies legislation
The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 set out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and introduced detailed rules governing residential tenancies. It introduced the concept of Part 4 rights, to provide security of tenure to tenants who are in a tenancy for between 6 months and 4 years. It also detailed the required notice periods and the form that a notice of termination must take.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 amended the 2004 Act. It increased the required notice periods for terminating tenancies of 5 years or over – see ‘Notice periods’ below - and brought housing association tenancies under the remit of the Private Residential Tenancies Board, which is now the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
The 2015 Act also requires landlords to provide extra documentation when terminating a tenancy in certain situations - see ‘Notice of termination’ below.
The Law Reform Commission has produced a consolidated version of the 2004 Act as of 9 May 2016, incorporating all amendments in effect on that date.
The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 contains several amendments to the residential tenancies legislation. Some of the changes took effect from 24 December 2016, some took effect from 17 January 2017, and some others will require Commencement Orders. The changes include:
- Measures to prevent the simultaneous serving of termination notices on large numbers of residents in a single development
- Extending the period of a Part 4 tenancy from 4 years to 6 years - for tenancies created from 24 December 2016
- Removing the provision that allowed a landlord to end a further Part 4 tenancy during the first 6 months without having to give a reason
- Changes to declarations required when a termination is due to sale of the dwelling
Scope of legislation
A private residential tenancy means a tenancy that is agreed privately between a landlord and a tenant. If you are getting Rent Supplement, you are probably renting from a private landlord, so you would be covered by the residential tenancies legislation. It also covers tenancies under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Since 7 April 2016, the legislation also covers housing association tenancies.
If you are renting from a local authority, you are not covered by this legislation. See Repossession of rented social housing for information on procedures that local authorities must follow if asking their tenants to leave.
If you are renting a room that is part of your landlord's home, your tenancy is not covered by this legislation. However, if you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, your tenancy is covered. See our document on sharing accommodation with your landlord for more information.
Terminating a tenancy
How easily your landlord can end your tenancy depends on the type of tenancy you have and how long you have been in the accommodation. Your landlord must always give you valid written notice when asking you to leave - see 'Notice of termination' and 'Notice periods' below.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy, the landlord cannot normally end the tenancy unless you are in breach of your obligations – read more on the RTB's website.
After the first 6 months you acquire rights to security of tenure, even if you have a fixed-term tenancy (of 1 year, for example). The provisions on security of tenure are in Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the rights that they give are generally known as Part 4 rights.
If you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, which was originally part of the main house, your landlord can choose to opt out of the Part 4 provisions under Section 25 of the Act. You must get notice in writing, before the start of the tenancy, if the landlord wishes to take this option.
Tenants of certain dwellings let by housing associations (transitional dwellings) cannot gain the benefit of Part 4 rights.When you can be asked to leave
Tenancies that are governed by Part 4 of the 2004 Act and that started on or before 24 December 2016 run in 4-year cycles. Tenancies that started after 24 December 2016 run in 6-year cycles.
During the first 6 months of a tenancy, the landlord can ask you to leave without giving a reason (unless you have a fixed-term tenancy) but must serve a valid written notice of termination, allowing a minimum 28-day notice period. Only 7 days’ notice is required in the first 6 months if your behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property.
Part 4 tenancies
Your tenancy is known as a Part 4 tenancy in the following situations:
- It started on or before 24 December 2016 and has lasted between 6 months and 4 years, or
- It started after 24 December 2016 and has lasted between 6 months and 6 years
After the first cycle (4 or 6 years) of your Part 4 tenancy has ended, you enter a new cycle – see ‘Further Part 4 tenancies’ below.Restriction on terminating when selling multiple properties
Section 40 of the 2016 Act provides that a landlord cannot terminate a Part 4 tenancy if he intends to sell 10 or more dwellings in a development within a 6-month period, unless he can show that the market value with a sitting tenant is over 20% below the market value with vacant possession, and that preventing him from terminating the tenancy would be unduly onerous on him or would cause him undue hardship. This provision is often called the ‘Tyrrelstown’ amendment.Valid reasons for ending a Part 4 tenancy
The landlord can end a Part 4 tenancy only in the following circumstances:
- If you do not comply with the obligations of the tenancy
- If the property is no longer suited to your needs (for example, if it is overcrowded)
- If the landlord intends to sell the property within 3 months (however, if the landlord plans to sell 10 or more dwellings in a development within a 6-month period, he must show that the market value with a sitting tenant is over 20% below the market value with vacant possession, and that preventing him from terminating the tenancy would be unduly onerous on him or would cause him undue hardship)
or for the following 3 specific reasons:
- If the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member (this only applies to private landlords)
- If the landlord plans to change the business use of the property (for example, convert it to office use)
- If the landlord intends to refurbish the property substantially – see ‘Guidance on substantial refurbishment’ below
In all cases, the landlord must serve you with a valid notice of termination - see 'Notice of termination' below for more details.
Guidance on substantial refurbishment
A tenancy can only be ended on this ground if the proposed works are substantial and require the property to be vacated. A landlord who intends to end the tenancy for this reason should refer to the RTB’s detailed guidelines (pdf).
(These guidelines also explain what is required when a landlord wishes to exceed the cap on rent increases in a Rent Pressure Zone on the basis of substantial change to the property.)
Further Part 4 tenancies
If your tenancy started on or before 24 December 2016: When the 4-year cycle of the tenancy has ended, a new tenancy starts, known as a further Part 4 tenancy. This tenancy will now last 6 years.
If your tenancy started after 24 December 2016: The further Part 4 tenancy will start when the first 6-year cycle of the original Part 4 tenancy has ended and it will last 6 years.Ending a further Part 4 tenancy
The legislation originally provided that your landlord could end a further Part 4 tenancy at any time during the first 6 months without having to give a reason. This rule has been changed with effect from 17 January 2017 and the landlord must provide one of the valid reasons listed above.Preventing a further Part 4 tenancy
If a landlord wishes to stop a further Part 4 tenancy coming into existence, they may serve a notice during the original Part 4 tenancy, with the notice period expiring on or after the end of the tenancy. A notice served in this way should provide a reason for termination, but the reason does not need to be one of the above grounds.
Notice of termination
If your landlord wants you to leave, they must serve you with a valid written notice of termination. The notice can be posted to you, be given to you in person or be left for you at your address. Neither email nor text messages qualify as valid notices of termination. If it appears that you are not living in the property, the landlord can affix the notice to the outside of the property.
Section 62 of the 2004 Act sets down the requirements for a valid notice of termination. A notice of termination must:
- Be in writing
- Be signed by the landlord (or an authorised agent)
- Specify the date of termination of the tenancy
- State that you have the whole 24 hours of the termination date to vacate the property
- Specify the date of the notice itself
- State the reason for termination, if a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months or is a fixed-term tenancy
- State that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the RTB within 28 days from the receipt of the notice.
In addition, the landlord must provide additional details in certain situations and, in some cases, a statutory declaration. The RTB provides sample notices of termination, giving the details required in each situation.
If the property is being sold
If the landlord intends to sell the property within 3 months of the termination of your tenancy, the notice of termination must state that “The reason for the termination of the tenancy is due to the fact that the landlord intends to sell the dwelling, for full consideration, within 3 months after the termination of the tenancy”. The notice must also include a statutory declaration stating the landlord’s intention to sell.
If the landlord is availing of the exception to the ‘Tyrrelstown’ amendment (see above) in order to terminate the Part 4 tenancy, the statutory declaration must also state that that the market value with a sitting tenant is over 20% below the market value with vacant possession, and that preventing him from terminating the tenancy would be unduly onerous on him or would cause him undue hardship.
The RTB’s sample notice of termination due to intention to sell (pdf) contains the required information and a sample statutory declaration.
Termination for 3 other specific reasons
There are particular rules if the landlord gives one of the following 3 reasons in the notice of termination:
- They need the property for their own use or for an immediate family member
- They plan to refurbish the property substantially and need vacant possession
- They intend to change the use of the property
The detailed rules are outlined below. In addition, if any of these 3 reasons is cited, you must also be told that if the dwelling becomes available for letting within a certain period and you have given the landlord your contact details, they must offer you a tenancy. (This requirement does not apply if your tenancy is being ended due to a breach of your obligations, overcrowding or the property being sold.)
If the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member, you must be given the following information in writing, along with the notice of termination: the person’s name; their relationship to the landlord; and how long they will occupy the dwelling. The notice must also include a statutory declaration stating that the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member. The RTB’s sample notice of termination when the landlord needs the property (pdf) contains the required information and a sample statutory declaration.
If the landlord intends to refurbish the property to the extent that it needs to be vacant, they must state the nature of the works in writing, along with the notice of termination. If planning permission is required, the notice must be accompanied by a copy of the permission. If planning permission is not required, the notice must state this and must provide the name of the contractor (if any); the dates of the intended works; and their proposed duration – see the RTB’s sample notice of termination due to intention to refurbish (pdf).
If the landlord intends to change the use of the property (and has obtained any necessary planning permission) they must state the nature of the change in writing, along with the notice of termination. The notice must confirm that any necessary planning permission has been received. The RTB’s sample notice of termination due to change of use (pdf) contains the required information.
Under section 56 of the 2004 Act, you can complain to the RTB in the following situations:
- If your landlord has ended your tenancy for one of the 3 reasons specified above, the property becomes available for re-letting and they do not offer you a tenancy
- If they did not carry out the intention stated in the notice of termination – either one of the above 3 reasons or sale of the property
If the RTB upholds your complaint, it may direct the landlord to pay you damages or to reinstate your tenancy, or both.
Sample notices for termination in other situations
The RTB’s sample notices cover several other situations, for instance if the landlord is terminating your tenancy due to rent arrears. In this case you must have received a written warning notice at least 14 days before the notice of termination is issued – see ‘Notice periods’ below. The RTB’s sample (pdf) contains both of these notices.
Sample notices of termination are also available for breach of tenant obligations (pdf) and anti-social behaviour (pdf). There is also a sample notice for when the dwelling is no longer suited to your household’s needs (pdf). In this case, the notice must be accompanied by a signed and dated statement of the number of bed spaces in the property and the reasons why it is no longer suitable, having regard to the bed spaces and the size and composition of your household.
Slips or omissions
Section 30 of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 deals with slips or omissions that are contained in the notice or that occurred during its service. This section provides that, when dealing with a dispute in respect of a notice of termination, an adjudicator (or the Tenancy Tribunal) may make a determination that such a slip or omission shall not of itself render the notice of termination invalid, if the adjudicator or Tribunal is satisfied that:
- The slip or omission concerned does not prejudice, in a material respect, the notice of termination, and
- The notice of termination is otherwise in compliance with the provisions of the Act
The length of notice required depends on the length of your tenancy. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 increased the notice periods for tenancies of 5 years or longer in duration, with effect from 4 December 2015.
|Length of tenancy||Notice that the landlord must give|
|Less than 6 months||4 weeks (28 days)|
|6 months or longer but less than 1 year||5 weeks (35 days)|
|1 year or longer but less than 2 years||6 weeks (42 days)|
|2 years or longer but less than 3 years||8 weeks (56 days)|
|3 years or longer but less than 4 years||12 weeks (84 days)|
|4 years or longer but less than 5 years||16 weeks (112 days)|
|5 years or longer but less than 6 years||20 weeks (140 days)|
|6 years or longer but less than 7 years||24 weeks (168 days)|
|7 years or longer but less than 8 years||28 weeks (196 days)|
|8 years or longer||32 weeks (224 days)|
Exceptions to required notice periods
If you are not keeping your obligations, your landlord only needs to give you 28 days’ notice, regardless of the length of your tenancy. However, if your behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property, the landlord only needs to give you 7 days’ notice. Section 17 (1) (a) and (b) of the 2004 Act sets out the type of seriously anti-social behaviour for which a 7-day notice may be allowed.
If your rent is in arrears, your landlord must first give you written notification of the amount owing and must give you 14 days to pay the arrears. If you still have not paid 14 days after you got this notification, your landlord can then give you 28 days’ notice of termination.
Landlords and tenants can agree shorter notice periods than the minimum periods set out above, but they can only do so at the time they decide to terminate the tenancy. It is illegal to agree a shorter notice period at the start of the tenancy.
Landlords and tenants can also agree longer notice periods, but the maximum is 70 days when the tenancy has lasted less than 6 months.
If your landlord locks you out or physically evicts you, you may be able to apply for an injunction to force them to let you back into the property or you may apply to the RTB to do so on your behalf. Similarly if your landlord cuts off water, gas or electricity, you may be able to take legal action to restore the supply. In either case, you should get legal advice and assistance before you proceed. Your landlord cannot remove your possessions from your home while your tenancy is still in existence (though after a tenancy has ended, a landlord is under no legal obligation to store or maintain belongings).
If your landlord is going to refer a dispute to the RTB, you should get advice about your situation from Threshold or a solicitor. The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) operates a network of legal advice clinics throughout the State. These clinics are confidential, free of charge and open to all. Contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC services in your area. FLAC also runs an information and referral line during office hours for basic legal information.
Where to apply