You are a private residential tenant if you are renting your home from a private landlord. When you rent from a landlord, you have an agreement or contract with that person, known as a tenancy agreement – which may or may not be in writing. The most common types of tenancy are fixed-term tenancies and periodic tenancies – both described in more detail below.
The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 gives tenants the right to stay in rented accommodation for up to 4 years, following an initial 6-month period. This applies to both periodic and fixed-term tenancies. Your tenancy then becomes a Part 4 tenancy and can be followed by a further Part 4 tenancy – both described below. However, the Act does not cover tenants who rent a room in their landlord's home.
A fixed-term tenancy is an agreement that covers a specific amount of time. It is generally (but not always) set down in a written contract, called a lease. It may be for any period, but can range from as little as 6 months up to a year or more. It is important to note the following points about a fixed-term tenancy:
The lease will state how much rent you have to pay, how often you have to pay it and other conditions. You are strongly advised to make sure that you understand the terms of the lease before you sign it. A lease is a binding contract between you and the landlord and contains important information on the terms of your tenancy. In particular, it should state what will happen if either of you breaks the terms of the agreement.
However a lease should not contain terms that contradict the legal rights of tenants and landlords. If this happens, your legal rights as a tenant or landlord supersede the terms in the lease. For example, your landlord cannot enter the property at any time without seeking your permission. This is the case even if your lease states that the landlord may enter the property at any time.
If you sign a lease together with other people, you each become responsible for all the rent. So, if your fellow tenants cannot pay their share of the rent, you may be legally liable for the entire amount. If you sign a lease on your own on behalf of the other tenants, you become responsible for all the rent.
If the yearly rent on the lease for residential accommodation is over €30,000, the tenant is responsible for stamp duty on the annual rent. It is your responsibility as a tenant to pay this to Revenue.
Read more about leases on the website of Threshold, the national housing charity.
A periodic tenancy agreement does not specify a fixed length of time. The period of the tenancy may be weekly or monthly, depending on how often the rent is due. Periodic tenancy agreements may or may not be in writing.
Your landlord may end the tenancy at any time during the first 6 months without having to give a reason, but after 6 months you acquire security of tenure – see ‘Part 4 tenancy’ below. You must always get a valid written notice of termination and there are detailed rules about the period of notice that must be given, depending on the length of the tenancy (with some exceptions). Read more in our document If your landlord wants you to leave.
As a tenant, you may end the periodic tenancy at any time. You do not have to give a reason. Again, there are detailed rules about notice periods and what constitutes a valid notice of termination – see ‘Ending your tenancy’ below
If you have been renting for at least 6 months and haven't been served with a valid written notice of termination, you automatically acquire security of tenure and can stay in the property for up to 4 years. This security of tenure continues in in 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. If you have a periodic tenancy, you do not have to claim the Part 4 tenancy in writing, but you do need to claim it if you have a fixed-term lease – see below.
After 4 years of your tenancy have passed, your Part 4 tenancy ends and a new tenancy begins. You now have a further Part 4 tenancy. During the first 6 months of your further Part 4 tenancy, your landlord may end it at any time without having to give a reason – though you must get 112 days’ notice (16 weeks). After 6 months you again acquire security of tenure and you are now 6 months into a further 4-year cycle.
When you have acquired a Part 4 tenancy (or are over 6 months into a further Part 4 tenancy) your landlord can terminate your tenancy only in certain circumstances. If you want to leave and you do not have a fixed-term agreement, you do not have to give a reason, but you must give the correct period of notice in writing as required under the Act – see ‘Ending your tenancy’ below.
If you have a fixed-term contract or lease and you wish to remain in the property under the rights acquired under Part 4, you must notify your landlord of your intention to stay in the property. You must do this between 3 months and 1 month before the expiry of your fixed–term tenancy or lease agreement. You can use this sample letter of notification to remain in the property under Part 4.
If you do not notify your landlord, you cannot be refused coverage under Part 4, but you may have to compensate the landlord for any financial loss that they incur because you did not notify them of your intention to remain in the tenancy.
The following outlines the requirements for a tenant who wishes to end a tenancy. (As noted above, landlords must also comply with detailed rules if they wish to end a tenancy.) There is more detail for both tenants and landlords in this leaflet Terminating a tenancy (doc), published by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).
As a tenant, you can terminate your tenancy (whether fixed-term or periodic) without giving a reason, but you must provide a valid notice of termination to your landlord. In order to be valid, this notice must:
You can use Threshold’s sample notice of termination (doc).
You must also give the required period of notice as set out in the table below.
|Length of tenancy||Required period of notice by tenant|
|Less than 6 months||4 weeks (28 days)|
|6 months to 1 year||5 weeks (35 days)|
|1 to 2 years||6 weeks (42 days)|
|2 or more years||8 weeks (56 days)|
If you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement or a lease, you are also subject to the terms of this agreement, as well as having to comply with the notice periods listed above. This means that you may lose your deposit if you leave before the term stated in the lease, even if you give the correct amount of notice. However, there are some exceptions, as follows:
The PRTB has a checklist for tenants on serving a valid notice of termination.
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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.