Tenants’ rights and obligations

Introduction

Your main legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant derive from landlord and tenant law as well as from any lease or tenancy agreement between you and your landlord.

The main legislation covering these rights and obligations is contained in the Landlord and Tenant Acts 1967 to 1994, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

(However, if you are renting a room in your landlord's home you are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation, though you are covered if you rent a self-contained flat in your landlord’s home. Read more in our document on sharing accommodation with your landlord.)

Leases or other tenancy agreements cannot take away from your rights under the legislation, but you and your landlord can agree on matters that are not dealt with in it.

Recent changes

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 provides for several changes. However, not all of these provisions are yet in effect.

The provisions that are now in effect include:

  • Measures to prevent the simultaneous serving of termination notices on large numbers of residents in a single development
  • Increased security of tenure for tenancies created from 24 December 2016
  • Designation of Rent Pressure Zones, in which rent increases will be capped - with effect from 24 December 2016
  • Simplified procedures for dispute resolution
  • Extending the tenancy cycle for Part 4 tenancies from 4 years to 6 years
  • Requiring a landlord to give a reason when terminating a Further Part 4 tenancy in the first 6 months

They also include restrictions on the sale of 10 or more rented units in a development (the “Tyrrelstown amendment”).

The Residential Tenancies Board has detailed information on the changes that took effect from 24 December 2016 and 17 January 2017.

Rights as a private tenant

  • You are entitled to quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home. If noise from other tenants or neighbours is disturbing you, ask them to stop and also inform your landlord. If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint.
  • 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 times. You are also entitled to have appropriate contact information (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.)
  • 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
  • You are entitled to reimbursement for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord's responsibility
  • You are entitled to have visitors to 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 of the termination of your tenancy
  • You are entitled to refer any disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalised for doing so
  • You have the right to a copy of any register entry held by the RTB dealing with your tenancy
  • All homes for rent must have a Building Energy Rating (BER), stating how energy-efficient the home is. This will help you to make an informed choice when comparing properties to rent.

Rights of housing association tenants

If you are renting from a housing association, a co-operative or similar voluntary organisation (known as approved housing bodies or AHBs) your tenancy now comes under the residential tenancies legislation and you have most of the same rights that private tenants have. However, there are some differences:

  • You may not assign or sublet the tenancy
  • Rent reviews will be carried out in accordance with the tenancy agreement (if there is one) or else no more than once a year
  • While most tenants of AHBs will get security of tenure – known as Part 4 rights – after 6 months or more into the tenancy, this does not apply if you are living in transitional accommodation and the tenancy is for 18 months or less
  • The landlord’s right to terminate a Part 4 tenancy for the reason that they require the dwelling for their own or family member occupation does not apply to AHB tenancies
  • The minimum standards for food preparation, storage and laundry purposes do not apply to AHBs, so they do not have to provide their tenants with white goods, such as washing machines

Security of tenure

If you have been renting for at least 6 months and have not been served with a valid written notice of termination, in general you automatically acquire security of tenure and can stay in the property for a number of years.

  • If your tenancy started on or before 24 December 2016, this period is 4 years
  • If your tenancy started after 24 December 2016, this period is 6 years

This security of tenure continues in 6-year (formerly 4-year) cycles.

So, after the first 6 months, your tenancy becomes what is known as a Part 4 tenancy – this refers to Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which deals with security of tenure. Read more in our document Private tenants: security of tenure.

This right to remain is subject to certain rights that the landlord continues to have. The landlord may reclaim the property for a number of reasons – read more in our document If your landlord wants you to leave.

Paying and reclaiming your deposit

You will probably have to pay a security deposit when you agree to rent the 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. There are no rules about the amount of the deposit, but it is usually equal to one month’s rent.

Threshold provides useful tips on what to bear in mind before you pay a deposit, including a guide to avoiding scams (pdf). Your landlord must provide you with an inventory of the contents of the property. It is advisable to record the condition of everything that is listed, taking photos if possible, and agree this in writing with your landlord.

In general, 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. Read Threshold’s advice on getting your deposit back.

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 adequate notice

The landlord may not hold your possessions against money that you owe, but he can apply to the RTB if he feels that your deposit does not cover rent arrears or the cost of damage to the property.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for a new tenancy deposit protection scheme. These provisions are not yet in effect.

Obligations of a tenant

You must:

  • Pay your rent on time
  • Pay any other charges that are specified in the letting agreement, for example, waste collection charges; utility bills; management fees to the management company in an apartment complex – see ‘Other charges and payments’ below
  • Keep the property in good order
  • Inform the landlord if repairs are needed and give the landlord access to the property to carry out repairs
  • Give the landlord access (by appointment) for routine inspections
  • Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
  • Avoid causing damage or nuisance
  • Make sure that you do not cause the landlord to be in breach of the law
  • Comply with any special terms in your tenancy agreement, oral or written
  • Give the landlord the information required to register with the RTB and sign the registration form when asked to do so
  • Give the landlord proper notice when you are ending the tenancy

You should note that it may be more difficult to assert your rights if you have broken conditions of your tenancy.

Other charges and payments

The owner (your landlord) is responsible for paying the Local Property Tax to the Revenue Commissioners. There may be an agreement that you will pay this amount, but your liability will be to the landlord and not to Revenue.

Whether or not you have to pay for services such as heating, electricity, gas or TV connections depends on the terms of your letting agreement. In practice, if you are renting a house, you are likely to be liable for all these charges.

Multi-unit developments

In some multi-unit developments, such as apartment complexes, the heating may be operated centrally and you may not have to pay separately for it. In some complexes, cable TV may be supplied. In most complexes, bin collection is organised by the management company and you may not have to pay charges for this.

There are annual charges in multi-unit developments to pay for the maintenance, insurance and repair of common areas; for the provision of common services to unit owners; and to contribute to a sinking fund for non-routine refurbishment and maintenance expenses. Your landlord may pass these charges on to you if this is agreed, but if they are not paid, the owners’ management company may pursue the owner (the landlord) for them.

Private tenancies and receivership

If your landlord’s mortgage is in arrears and the mortgage lender has appointed a receiver, you must pay the rent to the receiver, but it is the landlord who remains legally responsible for matters such as returning your deposits. The receiver may arrange for repairs to be carried out, but it is unclear whether the receiver is required to do this or whether the receiver takes on any of the responsibilities of a landlord.

Read more in Banking and Payments Federation Ireland’s Residential Tenant’s Guide to Receivership and in Threshold’s tips for tenants when a property is in receivership (pdf).

Tax issues

If your landlord lives outside the State, you must deduct tax for the rent and account for it to the Revenue Commissioners.

If you pay income tax and you were already renting on 7 December 2010, you may be eligible for some tax relief on the rent. This tax relief is being phased out.

Read more about these issues in our document on tax issues for tenants.

How to apply

If you feel your rights as a tenant have been infringed, you have some methods of redress. Our document on resolving disputes between landlords and tenants describes several options. These include taking your case to the Residential Tenancies Board, which provides a dispute resolution service for both private and AHB tenancies.

Threshold provides a free advice and information service to tenants - see 'Where to apply' below – and has published a leaflet on resolving problems during your tenancy (pdf).

If your landlord is not maintaining the property to the proper standards you can contact your local authority, which is responsible for enforcing standards in rented housing.

Further information

The RTB has published a Good Tenant Guide, a brief summary of common issues. It has also published a checklist for tenants on how to prevent disputes and a similar checklist for landlords. The RTB’s One Stop Shop has further useful resources and a webchat facility.

The FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) website has a leaflet (pdf) on the basic rights and duties of landlords and tenants.

Find out more about your landlord’s rights and obligations.

Where to apply

Residential Tenancies Board

PO Box 47
Clonakilty
Co. Cork
Ireland

Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 6.30 pm
Tel: 0818 303 037 or 00353 766 887 350
Fax: 0818 303 039
Homepage: http://www.rtb.ie/
Homepage: https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/

Threshold

21 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7
Ireland

Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel:1800 454 454
Fax:(01) 677 2407
Homepage: http://www.threshold.ie
Email: advice@threshold.ie

Threshold

Dublin Outreach Clinic
Co. Council Office
Grove Road
Blanchardstown
Co. Dublin

Opening Hours:Tuesday 2pm - 5pm
Tel: (01) 635 3651

Threshold

22 South Mall
Cork
Ireland

Opening Hours:Mon - Fri: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
Tel:(021) 427 8848
Fax:(021) 480 5111
Homepage: http://www.threshold.ie
Email: advicecork@threshold.ie

Threshold

5 Prospect Hill
Galway
Ireland
H91 HC1H

Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel:(091) 563 080
Fax:(091) 569 273
Homepage: http://www.threshold.ie
Email: advicegalway@threshold.ie

Page edited: 29 November 2017