Your main legal rights and responsibilities as a private tenant derive from landlord and tenant law as well as from any lease or tenancy agreement between you and your landlord.
The main legislation governing these rights and obligations is contained in the Landlord and Tenant Acts 1967 to 1994 and the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. However, if you are living with your landlord you are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation.
Leases or other tenancy agreements cannot take away from your rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, but you and your landlord can agree on matters that are not dealt with in the Act.
The provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act only apply to mainstream private rented housing at present, though the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 (pdf) proposes to regulate many tenancies in the voluntary housing sector in the same way as private tenancies. Tenants of social housing and private tenants who live in their landlord's home (for example, under the Rent a Room Scheme) are covered by different laws.
In general, you may have security of tenure for 4 years, though your landlord may end the tenancy during the first 6 months without giving any reason. After 6 months, you have the right to stay for a further 3 years and 6 months, provided you keep the terms of the contract. These provisions are in Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, so a tenancy that is in existence for more than 6 months is known as a Part 4 Tenancy. All tenancies are deemed to end after 4 years.
If you continue to be the tenant at the end of the 4 years, you have a Further Part 4 Tenancy. You may stay in the property but you are considered to have a new tenancy. You can read more about the different types of tenancy here.
If you intend to stay in the property, you should inform your landlord in writing between 3 months and 1 month before the expiry of your fixed-term tenancy or lease agreement.
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.
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. However, if you leave before the end of the agreed period, he 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:
The landlord may not hold your possessions against money that you owe, but he can apply to the PRTB if he feels that your deposit does not cover rent arrears or the cost of damage to the property.
You should note that it may be more difficult to assert your rights if you have broken conditions of your tenancy.
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.
As the tenant of a property, you are the occupier and are responsible for paying the water charges.
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.
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.
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.
Possible changes to the law are being explored in order to provide more clarity for private tenants whose homes are put into receivership.
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).
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. If your landlord lives outside the State, you must deduct tax for the rent and account for it to the Revenue Commissioners. Read more in our document on tax issues for tenants.
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.
Threshold provides a free advice and information service to tenants - see 'Where to apply' below.
In the case of disputes regarding private tenancy agreements, you may take your case to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, which provides a dispute resolution service.
The PRTB has published Being a good tenant (pdf), a brief summary of common issues.
Find out more about your landlord’s rights and obligations.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.