Sharing accommodation with your landlord
If you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, your tenancy is covered by residential tenancies legislation and your landlord must register it with the Residential Tenancies Board. However, if you are renting a room that is part of your landlord's home, your tenancy is not covered by this legislation.
You may be entitled to claim the Housing Assistance Payment or Rent Supplement in the same way as other tenants. As part of the qualifying conditions for these supports you must be able to prove that the tenancy is genuine.
Self-contained flat or apartment
If you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, your tenancy is covered by residential tenancies legislation.
Examples of a self-contained flat or apartment include a basement flat or converted garage, which is attached to your landlord’s home. This type of accommodation is covered by residential tenancies legislation.
You have certain rights and obligations under residential tenancies legislation and so does your landlord.
If the flat or apartment was originally part of the main house, your landlord must register the tenancy. However, your landlord can choose to opt out of security of tenure rules, which give you the right to stay in your rented accommodation for a set amount of time. You must get notice in writing, before the start of the tenancy, if the landlord wants to take this option.
Renting a room
If you are renting a room in your landlord's home, your situation is very different. You do not have a standard tenancy agreement. Instead, you have a licensee agreement with your landlord. This means that you are in the property by the landlord’s consent or invitation. As a result, you cannot avail of the type of protection that tenants are entitled to under the residential tenancies legislation.
The position is the same if you are living with a spouse, child or parent of a landlord and you do not have a tenancy agreement or written lease.
As you do not have the same rights as someone whose tenancy comes under the landlord and tenant legislation, you should be aware of the following:
- Your landlord is not obliged to provide you with a rent book or a statement of rent paid
- There is no legal requirement for your accommodation to meet minimum physical standards (unless you are a HAP tenant and then these minimum standards must be met)
- Any notice you may get of the termination of the tenancy is at your landlord's discretion (although the landlord is obliged to give reasonable notice, the specifics of this notice may vary)
- Your landlord is not obliged to register the tenancy with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)
- You cannot use the RTB's dispute resolution service if a disagreement arises between you and your landlord
- You are not protected by the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community – and also on the ‘housing assistance’ ground
Agreement with your landlord
Before you arrange to rent a room in your landlord’s home you should agree some ground rules and put them in writing. If you and your landlord each sign and keep a copy of this agreement, you can both refer to its terms in the event of confusion or disagreement. These ground rules might include:
- How long is the tenancy going to last?
- How much notice will either you or your landlord must give if either of you chooses to end the tenancy?
- How much rent will you pay and how often (for example, weekly, monthly)?
- How will rent be paid (cash, cheque, standing order etc.)?
- When will the rent to be reviewed and how much notice will your landlord give you of a rent review?
- How utility bills (electricity, gas, phone, water) will be divided between yourself and the landlord?
- Will your landlord expect you to contribute towards bin collection charges?
- Can you have visitors to stay overnight?
- Are there any restrictions regarding noise levels?
Renting a room as a student
If you are a student and are renting in your landlord's house, there is a voluntary regulatory framework to help set ground rules between you and your landlord. These have been created by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science along with a sample license agreement (pdf). It is recommended that you agree a written licence agreement with your landlord before you take up your accommodation offer.
Along with the ground rules listed above, the licence agreement also includes the following:
- How much the deposit will be
- The date your deposit will be returned to you after the licence agreement has ended
- The reasons for which the landlord may keep part of the deposit (for example, unpaid rent or damage to property)
- The method used to record that you have paid rent
- A list of furniture, provided by the landlord, which you can use exclusively
- Any general rules about the landlord's access to your bedroom (such as the notice you will get)
This licence agreement can be adjusted to suit the needs of the landlord and the student.
If you are renting a room in your landlord’s home and are unhappy with the way you are being treated, you should try discussing the situation with the landlord and attempt to resolve any issues between you. You may wish to contact Threshold, which provides information on housing rights – see 'Where to apply' below.
If you have exhausted these options, you may be able to take your case to the Small Claims Court. This is really the only legal recourse you have as a tenant renting a room in your landlord’s home.
Common claims that are heard by the Small Claims Court include disputes about retention of your deposit for what you consider unfair reasons, or deductions from rent for damage to property that is over and above normal 'wear and tear'.
Read about how to make an application to the Small Claims Court.