If your landlord wants you to leave

Introduction

The law on residential tenancies means that private landlords and approved housing bodies (housing associations) must follow certain procedures before asking a tenant to leave rented accommodation. They must also give the tenant a minimum amount of notice, depending on how long the tenancy has lasted.

Residential tenancies legislation

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and introduced detailed rules about residential tenancies. It introduced the concept of Part 4 rights, to provide security of tenure to tenants who are in a tenancy for between 6 months and 4 years. It also detailed the required notice periods and the form that a notice of termination must take.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 amended the 2004 Act. It increased the required notice periods for terminating tenancies of 5 years or over and brought housing association tenancies under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The 2015 Act also requires landlords to provide extra documentation when terminating a tenancy in certain situations - see ‘Notice of termination’ below.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 contains several amendments to the residential tenancies legislation. It extended the period of a Part 4 tenancy from 4 years to 6 years for tenancies created from 24 December 2016 and removed the provision that allowed a landlord to end a further Part 4 tenancy during the first 6 months without having to give a reason. It also included measures to prevent the simultaneous serving of termination notices on large numbers of residents in a single development

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 made more changes to the 2004 Act. The Act was signed into law on 31 May 2019 and some of the changes took effect from 4 June 2019. Other changes under the Act are not yet in effect and will require further Commencement Orders. The 2019 Act increased the notice periods needed when a landlord terminates a tenancy for tenancies over 6 months and less than 5 years – see ‘Notice periods’ below. It also amended some of the obligations and procedures that a landlord must follow when terminating a tenancy. Read more about legislative changes under the 2019 Act on the RTB’s website onestopshop.rtb.ie.

The Law Reform Commission has produced a consolidated version of the 2004 Act as of 4 June 2019, incorporating all amendments in effect on that date.

What tenancies does the residential tenancies legislation cover?

A private residential tenancy means a tenancy that is agreed privately between a landlord and a tenant. It covers tenancies under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). If you are getting Rent Supplement, you are probably renting from a private landlord, so you will also be covered by the residential tenancies legislation. Since April 2016, the legislation also covers housing association tenancies.

If you are renting from a local authority, you are not covered by this legislation. See Repossession of rented social housing for information on procedures that local authorities must follow if asking their tenants to leave.

If you are renting a room that is part of your landlord's home, your tenancy is not covered by this legislation. However, if you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, your tenancy is covered. See our document on sharing accommodation with your landlord for more information.

Terminating a tenancy

How easily your landlord can end your tenancy depends on the type of tenancy you have and how long you have been in the accommodation. Your landlord must always give you valid written notice when asking you to leave - see 'Notice of termination' and 'Notice periods' below.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord cannot normally end the tenancy unless you are in breach of your obligations – read more on the RTB's website.

After the first 6 months you get security of tenure rights, even if you have a fixed-term tenancy (of 1 year, for example). The provisions on security of tenure are in Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the rights that they give are generally known as Part 4 rights.

Exceptions

If you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, which was originally part of the main house, your landlord can choose to opt out of the Part 4 provisions. If your landlord wants to take this option, you must get notice of this in writing, before the start of the tenancy.

Tenants of certain dwellings let by housing associations (transitional dwellings) cannot gain the benefit of Part 4 rights.

When you can be asked to leave

During the first 6 months of a tenancy, the landlord can ask you to leave without giving a reason (unless you have a fixed-term tenancy) but must serve a valid written notice of termination, allowing a minimum 28-day notice period. Only 7 days’ notice is required in the first 6 months if your behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property.

Part 4 tenancies

Your tenancy is known as a Part 4 tenancy in the following situations:

  • It started on or before 24 December 2016 and has lasted between 6 months and 4 years, or
  • It started after 24 December 2016 and has lasted between 6 months and 6 years

After the first cycle (4 or 6 years) of your Part 4 tenancy has ended, you enter a new cycle – see ‘Further Part 4 tenancies’ below.

Valid reasons for ending a Part 4 tenancy

The landlord can end a Part 4 tenancy only in the following circumstances:

  • If you do not comply with the obligations of the tenancy
  • If the property is no longer suited to your needs (for example, if it is overcrowded)
  • If the landlord intends to sell the property within 9 months (however, this reason may not apply if the landlord plans to sell 10 or more dwellings in a development within a 6-month period – see ‘Restriction on terminating when selling multiple properties’ below.)

or for the following 3 specific reasons:

  • If the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member (this only applies to private landlords)
  • If the landlord plans to change the business use of the property (for example, convert it to office use)
  • If the landlord intends to refurbish the property substantially – see ‘Substantial refurbishment’ below

In all cases, the landlord must serve you with a valid notice of termination - see 'Notice of termination' below for more details.

Since 4 June 2019, if a landlord ends a tenancy because they are selling the property, changing its use, substantially refurbishing it, or because they need it for themselves or an immediate family member, and the property then becomes available for rent again, the landlord must offer it back to the tenant that had to vacate the property. This must be done within 12 months of the expiry of the tenants notice period.

Restriction on terminating when selling multiple properties

A landlord cannot terminate a Part 4 tenancy if they intend to sell 10 or more dwellings in a development within a 6-month period, unless:

  • They can show that the market value with a sitting tenant is over 20% below the market value with vacant possession, and
  • That preventing them from terminating the tenancy would be unduly onerous on them or would cause them undue hardship

This provision is often called the ‘Tyrrelstown’ amendment and it provided for under Section 40 of the 2016 Act.

Substantial refurbishment

A tenancy can only be ended on this ground if the proposed works are substantial and require the property to be vacated. A landlord who intends to end the tenancy for this reason should refer to the RTB’s reference leaflet (pdf) and website for further information.

Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 the landlord must offer the property back to the original tenant when the refurbishment work has been completed. This requirement came into effect on 4 June 2019.

Further Part 4 tenancies

If your tenancy started on or before 24 December 2016: When the 4-year cycle of the tenancy has ended, a new tenancy starts, known as a further Part 4 tenancy. This tenancy will now last 6 years.

If your tenancy started after 24 December 2016: The further Part 4 tenancy will start when the first 6-year cycle of the original Part 4 tenancy has ended and it will last 6 years.

Ending a further Part 4 tenancy

The legislation originally provided that your landlord could end a further Part 4 tenancy at any time during the first 6 months without having to give a reason. This rule changed with effect from 17 January 2017 and the landlord must provide one of the reasons listed in the ‘Valid reasons for ending a Part 4 tenancy’ section above.

Preventing a further Part 4 tenancy

If a landlord wants to stop a further Part 4 tenancy coming into existence, they can serve a notice during the original Part 4 tenancy, with the notice period expiring on or after the end of the tenancy. A notice served in this way should provide a reason for termination, but the reason does not need to be one of the above grounds.

Notice of termination

If your landlord wants you to leave, they must serve you with a valid written notice of termination. The notice can be posted to you, be given to you in person or be left for you at your address. Emails and text messages do not qualify as valid notices of termination. If it appears that you are not living in the property, the landlord can affix the notice to the outside of the property.

Section 62 of the 2004 Act sets down the requirements for a valid notice of termination. A notice of termination must:

  • Be in writing (an email is not sufficient)
  • Be signed by the landlord (or an authorised agent)
  • Specify the date of termination of the tenancy
  • State that you have the whole 24 hours of the termination date to vacate the property
  • Specify the date of the notice itself
  • State the reason for termination, if a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months or is a fixed-term tenancy
  • State that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the RTB within 28 days from the receipt of the notice.

In addition, the landlord must provide additional details in certain situations and, in some cases, a statutory declaration. The RTB provides sample notices of termination, giving the details required in each situation.

If the property is being sold

If the landlord intends to sell the property within 9 months of the termination of your tenancy, the notice of termination must state that “The reason for the termination of the tenancy is due to the fact that the landlord intends to sell the dwelling, for full consideration, within 3 months after the termination of the tenancy”. The landlord must enter into a contract for sale within 9 months of the termination date. The notice must also include a statutory declaration stating the landlord’s intention to sell.

If the landlord is availing of the exception to the ‘Tyrrelstown’ amendment (see above) in order to terminate the Part 4 tenancy, the statutory declaration must also state that that the market value with a sitting tenant is over 20% below the market value with vacant possession, and that preventing him from terminating the tenancy would be unduly onerous on him or would cause him undue hardship.

The RTB’s sample notice of termination due to intention to sell (pdf) contains the required information and a sample statutory declaration.

Since 4 June 2019, if a landlord ends a tenancy because they are selling the property and it becomes available for rent again, the landlord must offer it back to the tenant that had to vacate the property within 12 months of the expiry of their notice period.

If the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member

If the landlord terminates your tenancy because they need the property for their own use or for an immediate family member, you must be given the following information in writing, along with the notice of termination:

  • The person’s name, their relationship to the landlord and how long they will occupy the dwelling
  • A statutory declaration stating that the landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member

The RTB’s sample notice of termination when the landlord needs the property (pdf) contains the required information and a sample statutory declaration.

If the landlord is refurbishing the property

If the landlord intends to refurbish the property to the extent that it needs to be vacant, they must state the nature of the works in writing, along with the notice of termination. They must state:

  • If planning permission is needed
  • The name of the contractor (if any)
  • The dates the intended works are to be carried out
  • The proposed duration of the works

They must also include a certificate from a registered professional stating that:

  • The works would be a health and safety risk to the occupants
  • The property should be vacated while the works are being completed
  • The length of time the property should be vacated in order to complete the works (this must be longer than 3 weeks)

See the RTB’s sample notice of termination due to intention to refurbish (pdf).

From June 4th 2019, the landlord must offer the property back to the original tenant when the refurbishment works have been completed

If the landlord wants to change the use of the property

If the landlord intends to change the use of the property they must state the nature of the change in writing, along with the notice of termination. The notice must confirm that any necessary planning permission has been received. The RTB’s sample notice of termination due to change of use (pdf) contains the required information.

From 4 June 2019, if the landlord ends a tenancy because they are changing its use, and the property then becomes available for rent again, the landlord must offer it back to the tenant that had to vacate the property. This must be done within 12 months of the expiry of the tenants notice period.

Redress

You can complain to the RTB if your landlord ends a tenancy because they are selling the property, changing its use, substantially refurbishing it, or because they need it for themselves or an immediate family member and:

  • The property becomes available for re-letting and they do not offer you a tenancy
  • They did not carry out the intention stated in the notice of termination

If the RTB upholds your complaint, it may direct the landlord to pay you damages or to reinstate your tenancy, or both.

Sample notices for termination in other situations

The RTB’s sample notices cover several other situations, for instance if the landlord is terminating your tenancy due to rent arrears. In this case you must have received a written warning notice at least 14 days before the notice of termination is issued – see ‘Notice periods’ below. The RTB’s sample (pdf) contains both of these notices.

Sample notices of termination are also available for breach of tenant obligations (pdf) and anti-social behaviour. There is also a sample notice for when the dwelling is no longer suited to your household’s needs (pdf). In this case, the notice must be accompanied by a signed and dated statement of the number of bed spaces in the property and the reasons why it is no longer suitable, having regard to the bed spaces and the size and composition of your household.

Slips or omissions

Section 30 of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 deals with slips or omissions that are contained in the notice of termination or that occurred when it was served. This section provides that, when dealing with a dispute in respect of a notice of termination, an adjudicator (or the Tenancy Tribunal) may make a determination that such a slip or omission shall not of itself render the notice of termination invalid, if the adjudicator or Tribunal is satisfied that:

  • The slip or omission concerned does not prejudice, in a material respect, the notice of termination, and
  • The notice of termination is otherwise in compliance with the provisions of the Act

The 2019 Act provides that a ‘remedial notice’ can be issued that fixes the error with the original notice. For more information on remedial notices see the RTB’s website.

Read more on the websites of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and Threshold.

Notice periods

The length of notice required depends on the length of your tenancy. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 increased the notice periods for certain tenancies, with effect from 4 June 2019.

Length of tenancy Notice that the landlord must give
Less than 6 months 28 days
6 months or longer but less than 1 year 90 days
1 year or longer but less than 3 years 120 days
3 years or longer but less than 7 years 180 days
7 years or longer but less than 8 years 196 days
More than 8 years 224 days

Exceptions to required notice periods

If you are not keeping your obligations, your landlord only needs to give you 28 days’ notice, regardless of the length of your tenancy. However, if your behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property, the landlord only needs to give you 7 days’ notice. Section 17 (1) (a) and (b) of the 2004 Act sets out the type of seriously anti-social behaviour for which a 7-day notice may be allowed.

If your rent is in arrears, your landlord must first give you written notification of the amount owing and must give you 14 days to pay the arrears. If you still have not paid 14 days after you got this notification, your landlord can then give you 28 days’ notice of termination.

Landlords and tenants can agree shorter notice periods than the minimum periods set out above, but they can only do so at the time they decide to terminate the tenancy. It is illegal to agree a shorter notice period at the start of the tenancy.

Landlords and tenants can also agree longer notice periods, but the maximum is 70 days when the tenancy has lasted less than 6 months.

Illegal eviction

If your landlord locks you out or physically evicts you, you may be able to apply for an injunction to force them to let you back into the property or you may apply to the RTB to do so on your behalf. Similarly if your landlord cuts off water, gas or electricity, you may be able to take legal action to restore the supply. In either case, you should get legal advice and assistance before you proceed. Your landlord cannot remove your possessions from your home while your tenancy is still in existence (though after a tenancy has ended, a landlord is under no legal obligation to store or maintain belongings).

If your landlord is going to refer a dispute to the RTB, you should get advice about your situation from Threshold or a solicitor. The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) operates a network of legal advice clinics throughout the State. These clinics are confidential, free of charge and open to all. Contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC services in your area. FLAC also runs an information and referral line during office hours for basic legal information.

Where to apply

Threshold

21 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7
Ireland

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel: 1800 454 454
Fax: (01) 677 2407

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

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

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

Page edited: 18 June 2019