Landlords’ rights and obligations

Introduction

If you own land or a building and lease it to a tenant, you are considered a landlord. Your main legal rights and obligations as a landlord come from landlord and tenant law, as well as from any lease or tenancy agreement (written or spoken) between you and your tenant.

The main pieces of legislation that cover landlords' rights and obligations are:

The Law Reform Commission has produced a consolidated version of the 2004 Act, incorporating all amendments in effect since 1 July 2019.

If you are renting a room in your home, the tenancy does not come under the residential tenancies legislation (though renting out a self-contained flat in your home is covered). Read more in our document Rent-a-room relief.

Leases or other tenancy agreements cannot take away from a landlords or tenants rights and obligations under the legislation. However, you and your tenant can agree on matters that are not covered by legislation in a lease or tenancy agreement, for example, who pays for the utility bills.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published a Good Landlord Guide. Its One Stop Shop has useful resources and a webchat facility.

Housing associations

Landlords such as housing associations, co-operatives and similar voluntary housing organisations (known as approved housing bodies or AHBs) are covered by the residential tenancies legislation and have most of the same rights and obligations that private landlords have. However, there are some differences, including the rules on rent reviews, the minimum standards required and the landlord’s right to end a tenancy.

Student accommodation

Since 15 July 2019, student accommodation comes under the remit of the RTB and is covered by residential tenancies legislation. This means that tenants in student accommodation have most of the same rights as private tenants. However, there are some differences, for example, student tenants do not have security of tenure (Part 4 rights), and landlords may be able to access communal areas without the permission of the tenants. Find out more about the new rules for student accommodation tenancies on the RTB’s website.

Rights as a landlord

You have the right to:

  • Set the rent
  • Receive the correct rent on the date it is due – but see 'Private tenancies and receivership' below
  • Receive any charges associated with the property (this means taxes and duties or payments)
  • Terminate a tenancy during the first 6 months without giving a reason
  • In certain circumstances – terminate a tenancy at a later stage
  • Be informed about who is ordinarily living in the property (this does not include overnight visitors or short stays)
  • Be informed of any repairs needed
  • Be given reasonable access to the property to carry out repairs
  • Refer disputes to the RTB – but only if you have fulfilled your obligation to register the tenancy - see below
  • Review the rent. There are rules about how often you can review the rent in a private tenancy. These timeframes depend on when the tenancy started and if the property is in a Rent Pressure Zone or not. AHB rents are reviewed every 12 months, or according to the tenancy agreement.
  • For private tenancies only – decide whether the tenant can sub-let or assign a tenancy. However, if you refuse to allow a tenant to assign or sublet a tenancy, this can give the tenant the right to terminate a fixed-term tenancy before it expires.

You do not have the right to:

  • Enter your tenant's home without permission
  • Take or keep your tenant’s property – even if they haven’t paid the rent
  • Charge more than the market rate for the property
  • Penalise your tenant for bringing a dispute to the RTB.

Obligations of a landlord

As a landlord, you must:

  • Register the tenancy with the RTB and update them of any changes to the tenancy (from 2020 you will need to register tenancies annually)
  • Provide your tenant with a rent book or statement of rent paid
  • Make sure that the property meets certain minimum standards (though the standards for food preparation, storage and laundry purposes do not apply to AHBs)
  • Repair and maintain the interior of the property to the standard it was in at the start of the tenancy
  • Repair and maintain the structure of the property
  • Provide a Building Energy Rating (BER) for the property
  • Reimburse tenants for any repairs they make which are your responsibility
  • Insure the property (if it is impossible to get insurance, or if the cost is unreasonable, this obligation doesn’t apply)
  • Provide the tenant with information about any agents who are authorised to deal on your behalf (such as management companies, agencies, personal representatives)
  • Ensure that the tenant knows how to contact you or your agent
  • Give private tenants 90 days’ notice of a rent review and follow the rules about how often you can do this (AHBs should give notice “as soon as is practicable”)
  • Provide tenants with a valid written notice of termination and follow all the rules around terminating a tenancy

You must also make sure that the tenants meet their obligations. Anyone who is affected by your tenants’ failure to meet their obligations can make a complaint against you to the RTB.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 gives the RTB extended powers to investigate, caution and sanction landlords who break their statutory obligations as a landlord. The RTB will investigate if a landlord:

  • Does not comply with Rent Pressure Zone rules
  • Does not register tenancies with the RTB and keep them up-to-date with changes to the rent
  • Does not offer a tenancy back to a tenant, if the property becomes available to rent again, and the tenant was originally asked to leave the property because the landlord was selling the property, changing its use, substantially refurbishing it, or because they needed it for themselves or an immediate family member
  • Provides false or misleading reasons for terminating a tenancy

Find out more about the RTB’s investigations and sanctions unit on the RTB’s website.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published a Good Landlord/Tenant Guide. It’s One Stop Shop has useful resources and a webchat facility.

Deposits

You can only withhold a tenant’s deposit if:

  • The tenant has not given you proper notice when ending the tenancy
  • You have been left with outstanding bills (for electricity, gas etc.) or unpaid rent
  • The tenant has caused damage beyond normal wear and tear

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for a tenancy deposit protection scheme, where the RTB would manage and hold deposits for tenants and landlords. These provisions are not yet in effect.

Refusing a tenancy

The Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 apply to lettings and accommodation. Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants on grounds of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.

You cannot discriminate against a tenant or potential tenant because they are getting a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rent Supplement or any other social welfare payment. This means that you cannot state when advertising accommodation that HAP or Rent Supplement is not accepted and you cannot refuse to rent accommodation to someone because they are getting a social welfare payment. Read more on the website of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Taxation issues

Landlords pay tax on rental income under Revenue's self-assessment system. You can deduct the interest on mortgages used to purchase, improve or repair rented property when working out your rental income for tax purposes. You must show that you have registered all tenancies in the property with the RTB.

The amount of interest you can deduct on these mortgages has increased in recent years:

  • Prior to 2017, it was 75% of the interest
  • In 2017, it was 80% of the interest
  • In 2018, it was 85% of the interest
  • In 2019, it is 100% of the interest

Interest is treated as accruing on a daily basis and the date the loan was taken out is not relevant. Interest can only be deducted during the period in which the property is let.

Landlords who rent residential property for 3 years to tenants who are getting social housing supports can deduct all of the interest that accrues during that 3-year period. Social housing supports include the Housing Assistance Payment, the Rental Accommodation Scheme and Rent Supplement. You must submit an undertaking to the RTB, stating that you commit to renting a residential property to tenants on social housing supports for 3 years. The RTB will register these undertakings in its Register of Tenancies. You can get the form for registering an undertaking on the RTB's website (pdf).

If you rent out a room or flat in your home you are exempt from income tax on the amount that your tenant pays you for rent and other services, up to €14,000 in a tax year. This exemption does not apply to income you get from renting your property for short-term lets.

If you are living outside Ireland and your tenant pays rent directly to you, the tenant must deduct tax from the gross rent and account for it to Revenue. If the rent is being paid to a collection agent, the agent must account for the tax. Read more in our document on tax issues for tenants.

Read further information on Housing tax credits and reliefs.

Private tenancies and receivership

If the mortgage on the property is in arrears and the mortgage lender has appointed a receiver, your tenants must pay the rent to the receiver, but you remain legally responsible for matters such as returning the tenants’ 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.

Read more in the Residential Tenant’s Guide to Receivership published by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland and in Threshold’s advice on the appointment of receivers.

Where to apply

To register a tenancy, to commit to renting to tenants on social housing supports, or to resolve a dispute with your tenants, contact:

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: 14 August 2019