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Private tenants: security of tenure


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.

Read more in general about tenants' rights and obligations and about landlords' rights and obligations.

Fixed-term tenancy

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:

  • Your landlord may not end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term unless you have breached your obligations under it
  • In general, you may not end the tenancy before the end of the term unless the landlord has breached his obligations under it; you are exercising a break clause; you have got someone to replace you; or you and the landlord both agree to end it
  • However, if the landlord refuses to consent to an assignment or sub-let of the tenancy, you can terminate the tenancy under Section 186 of the Act
  • After 6 months, you acquire security of tenure – see ‘Part 4 tenancy’ below
  • If you wish to stay in the dwelling after the end of the fixed term, you must notify the landlord at least a month before the term expires

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.

Periodic tenancy

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

Part 4 tenancy

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.

Further Part 4 tenancy

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.

Claiming a Part 4 tenancy at the end of a fixed-term lease

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.

Ending your 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).

Format of termination notice

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:

  • Be in writing
  • Be signed by you
  • Specify the date that you are serving it on the landlord
  • Specify the termination date of the tenancy (you have the full 24 hours of this date to vacate possession)
  • State that any issue as to the validity of the notice may be referred to the PRTB within 28 days of receipt of the notice

You can use Threshold’s sample notice of termination (doc).

Required notice periods

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)

Ending a fixed-term tenancy

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:

  • If there is a break clause in your lease, you can use it to end the tenancy
  • If you and the landlord both agree to ending the tenancy sooner
  • If the landlord has breached their obligations under the lease, and has not rectified the breach within a reasonable time, then you only need to give 28 days’ notice
  • If the landlord’s behaviour causes imminent danger of death or serious injury, or danger to the fabric of the dwelling, then you only need to give 7 days’ notice
  • If the landlord has refused permission to assign or sublet

Further information

The PRTB has a checklist for tenants on serving a valid notice of termination.

Threshold has general information on ending a tenancy, which links to several useful resources, including its leaflet Ending a tenancy (pdf).

Where to apply


21 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7

Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel:1890 334 334
Fax:(01) 677 2407


22 South Mall

Opening Hours:Mon - Fri: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
Tel:(021) 427 8848
Fax:(021) 480 5111


3 Victoria Place
Merchant's Road

Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel:(091) 563 080
Fax:(091) 569 273

Private Residential Tenancies Board

PO Box 47
Co. Cork

Tel:+353 (0) 818 30 30 37
Fax:+353 (0) 818 30 30 39

Page edited: 2 April 2015


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Related Documents

  • Tenants’ rights and obligations
    The main rights and responsibilities of tenants in private rented accommodation derive from landlord and tenant law as well as from any written or oral tenancy agreement.
  • If your landlord wants you to leave
    The rules that a private landlord must comply with when ending a residential tenancy.
  • Landlords’ rights and obligations
    Landlords have certain rights and obligations, which derive from landlord and tenant law as well as from any tenancy agreement (written or spoken) between landlord and tenant.

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