Tenants’ rights and obligations
Your main legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant come from landlord and tenant law, as well as from any lease or tenancy agreement you have with your landlord.
The main pieces of legislation that cover tenant’s rights and obligations are:
- The Landlord and Tenant Acts 1967 to 1994
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2004
- The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016
- The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015
- The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019
- The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2020
The Law Reform Commission produces a consolidated version of the 2004 Act, incorporating all amendments.
If you are renting a room in your landlord's home you are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation, though you are covered if you rent a self-contained flat in your landlord’s home. Read more in our document on sharing accommodation with your landlord.
Leases or other tenancy agreements cannot take away from your rights under the legislation. However, you and your landlord can agree on matters not covered by legislation in a lease or tenancy agreement, for example, who pays for the utility bills.
COVID-19 and renting
At midnight on 21 October 2020, Ireland moved to Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 for 6 weeks. A general ban on evictions is in place for this period and for any other period when a 5 kilometre restriction on movement is in place. However, evictions can take place in limited circumstances. These rules are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2020. You can read more about this in our document Renting and COVID-19. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) also has a guidance document and FAQ’s about this legislation, where you can get general information about the eviction ban, as well as examples of how it applies.
Those who were covered by the rental laws that were introduced on 2 August 2020 also continue to be protected by those provisions in respect to notices of termination and rent arrears.
In March 2020, a range of protections were put in place for people affected by the pandemic under the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020. The rental protections during this initial emergency period ran from 27 March to 1 August 2020 and included a ban on eviction notices and rent increases. These protections still have an effect on notice periods and the calculation of Part 4 tenancies.
Rights as a private tenant
- You are entitled to quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home. If noise from other tenants or neighbours is disturbing you, ask them to stop and also inform your landlord. If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint.
- You are entitled to certain minimum standards of accommodation
- You are entitled to a rent book
- You have the right to contact the landlord or their agent at any reasonable times. You are also entitled to have appropriate contact information for them (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.)
- Your landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If the landlord needs to carry out repairs or inspect the premises, it should be by prior arrangement, except in an emergency
- You are entitled to be reimbursed for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord's responsibility
- You are entitled to have visitors to stay overnight or for short periods, unless specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement. You must tell your landlord if you have an extra person moving in
- You are entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of your tenancy
- You are entitled to at least 90 days’ notice if your landlord wants to review the rent, and there are rules about how often they can do this
- You are entitled to refer any disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalised for doing so
- You have the right to a copy of any register entry held by the RTB about your tenancy
- All homes for rent must have a Building Energy Rating (BER), stating how energy-efficient the home is. This will help you to make an informed choice when comparing properties to rent.
Rights of housing association tenants
If you are renting from a housing association, a co-operative or similar voluntary organisation (known as approved housing bodies or AHBs) your tenancy comes under the residential tenancies legislation and you have most of the same rights that private tenants have. However, there are some differences:
- You may not assign or sublet the tenancy
- Rent reviews will be carried out in accordance with the tenancy agreement (if there is one) or else no more than once a year
- Most tenants of AHBs will get security of tenure after 6 months in the tenancy. Security of tenure (also known as Part 4 rights) means that you can stay in the property for a number of years. However, this does not apply if you are living in transitional accommodation and the tenancy is for 18 months or less.
- The landlord’s right to terminate a Part 4 tenancy because they, or a family member needs to live in the property, does not apply to AHB tenancies
- The minimum standards for food preparation, storage and laundry purposes do not apply to AHBs, so they do not have to provide their tenants with white goods, such as washing machines
Rights of tenants in student-specific accommodation
Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 student-specific accommodation comes under the remit of the RTB. This provision commenced on 15 July 2019 and applies to student tenancies entered into after 15 August 2019. It means that student tenancies are now covered by residential tenancies legislation and these tenants will have most of the same rights as private tenants. For example, they can access the RTB’s dispute resolution process and the tenancies must be registered with the RTB. However, there are some differences, for example, tenants in student-specific accommodation do not have security of tenure (Part 4 rights). Find out more about these changes on the RTB’s website.
Security of tenure
If you have been renting for at least 6 months and have not been served with a valid written notice of termination, you automatically get security of tenure and can stay in the property for a number of years.
- If your tenancy started on or before 24 December 2016, this period is 4 years
- If your tenancy started after 24 December 2016, this period is 6 years
This security of tenure continues in 6-year (formerly 4-year) cycles.
So, after the first 6 months, your tenancy becomes a Part 4 tenancy – this refers to Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which deals with security of tenure. Read more in our document Private tenants: security of tenure.
This right to remain is subject to certain rights that the landlord continues to have. The landlord can reclaim the property for a number of reasons – read more in our document If your landlord wants you to leave.
Paying and reclaiming your deposit
You will probably have to pay a security deposit when you agree to rent a property. The landlord holds this deposit as security to cover any rent arrears, bills owing or damage beyond normal wear and tear at the end of the tenancy. There are no rules about the amount of the deposit, but it is usually equal to one month’s rent.
Threshold provides useful tips on what to bear in mind before you pay a deposit, including information on how to avoid rent scams. Your landlord must provide you with an inventory of the contents of the property. You should keep a record of the condition of everything that is listed, taking photos if possible, and agree this in writing with your landlord.
When you leave a property at the end of the agreed rental period or after giving the agreed notice, the landlord must return your security deposit, promptly and in full. Read Threshold’s advice on getting your deposit back.
However, if you leave before the end of the agreed period, the landlord may keep your deposit, even if you have given notice. (You may also be liable for the amount of rent due until the end of the lease, depending on what is stated in the lease agreement.)
The landlord may keep part or all of the deposit in the following situations:
- Rent arrears
- Unpaid bills
- Damage above normal wear and tear
- If you have not given adequate notice
The landlord cannot hold your possessions against money you owe, but they can apply to the RTB if they feel that your deposit does not cover rent arrears or the cost of damage to the property.
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.
Obligations of a tenant
- Pay your rent on time
- Pay any other charges that are specified in the letting agreement, for example, waste collection charges; utility bills; management fees to the management company in an apartment complex – see ‘Other charges and payments’ below
- Keep the property in good order
- Inform the landlord if repairs are needed and give the landlord access to the property to carry out repairs
- Give the landlord access (by appointment) for routine inspections
- Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
- Avoid causing damage or nuisance
- Make sure that you do not cause the landlord to be in breach of the law
- Comply with any special terms in your tenancy agreement, oral or written
- Give the landlord the information they need to register with the RTB and sign the registration form
- Give the landlord proper notice when you are ending the tenancy
You should note that it may be more difficult to assert your rights if you have broken conditions of your tenancy.
Other charges and payments
The owner (your landlord) is responsible for paying the Local Property Tax to the Revenue Commissioners. There may be an agreement that you will pay this amount, but your liability will be to the landlord and not to Revenue.
The terms of your letting agreement will detail whether or not you have to pay for services such as heating, electricity, gas or TV connections. In practice, if you are renting a house, you will probably be liable for all these charges.
In some multi-unit developments, such as apartment complexes, the heating may be operated centrally and you may not have to pay separately for it. In some complexes, cable TV may be supplied. In most complexes, bin collection is organised by the management company and you may not have to pay charges for this.
There are annual charges in multi-unit developments to pay for:
- Routine maintenance
- Insurance and repair of common areas
- Provision of common services
- A sinking fund for non-routine refurbishment and maintenance expenses
Your landlord may pass these charges on to you if this is agreed, but if they are not paid, the owners’ management company will pursue the owner (the landlord) for them.
Private tenancies and receivership
If your landlord’s mortgage is in arrears and the mortgage lender has appointed a receiver, you must pay the rent to the receiver. But, the landlord remains legally responsible for matters such as returning your deposits. The receiver may arrange to carry out repairs, but it is unclear if they are required to do this or whether the receiver takes on any of the responsibilities of a landlord.
Read more in Banking and Payments Federation Ireland’s Residential Tenant’s Guide to Receivership and in Threshold’s tips for tenants when a property is in receivership (pdf).
If your landlord lives outside the State, you must deduct tax for the rent and account for it to the Revenue Commissioners.
If you were renting on 7 December 2010, whether in your current tenancy or not, you may be able to claim tax relief on the rent paid in the previous allowable tax years up until 2017, when this tax credit ended.
Read more about these issues in our document on tax issues for tenants.
How to apply
If you feel your rights as a tenant have been broken, you have a number of ways to correct this. Our document on resolving disputes between landlords and tenants describes several options. These include taking your case to the Residential Tenancies Board, which provides a dispute resolution service for private, AHB and student-specific tenancies. Or contacting the RTB’s investigations and sanctions unit to make a complaint about a landlord breaking residential tenancies legislation.
Threshold provides a free advice and information service to tenants - see 'Where to apply' below – and has published a leaflet on resolving problems during your tenancy (pdf).
The FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) website has a leaflet (pdf) on the basic rights and duties of landlords and tenants.
Find out more about your landlord’s rights and obligations.
Where to apply