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Renting and the law

The legalities of renting accommodation


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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This information is intended as a simple guide only and not a definite interpretation of the law. For more information you should contact Threshold, the National Housing Organisation.

Tenant's Rights and Duties:

  • Once you agree to rent a room, house or flat, then you have legal rights and duties.
  • These include paying the agreed rent, keeping your place in order, avoiding damage or nuisance and sticking to any special terms that were decided in your tenant's agreement (that could be a written or verbal agreement with your landlord).
  • The most important things you need to remember are to have respect for your neighbours, to not damage the accommodation and to pay your bills!
  • Remember that if you sign a contract or lease for a certain amount of time, then you're legally committing yourself to paying rent for that time. So don't sign anything unless you‘re comfortable and happy with the conditions!
  • Once you are living in your new home, the landlord is only allowed to enter with your permission. This means that if the landlord wants to do repairs or check the accommodation, they should arrange a suitable time with you.

Rent Books:

  • Legally, your landlord must give you a rent book or written letting agreement or lease. A lot of landlords don't do this: make sure you ask for a rent book if you're not being offered one. 
  • When you make payments to the landlord, they should be noted in the rent book or by a written statement.
  • The rent book or written agreement should also contain the address of the rented place, the name and address of the landlord and agent (if used), the tenant's name (that's you!), the amount of rent due and when/how it should be paid (cheque, cash, etc.), other necessary payments (electricity, gas, phone, TV, etc.), the deposit amount and deposit conditions and info on the basic rights and duties of both you and the landlord.
  • The landlord must also give you a list of all the contents of the flat or house (furniture, electrical stuff, everything!). Make sure that you get this list and that everything on it is in place, this can save you a lot of problems later on.
  • If your landlord refuses to give you a rent book or receipt, keep written records of all payments you make and contact Threshold for advice.

Deposits:

  • Usually when you rent a room, house or flat, the landlord asks for a deposit.
  • Deposits are often one month's rent but remember that some landlords now ask for a month and a half's rent as deposit.
  • You might also be asked for a month's rent in advance when you're moving into a new place. So, if you're paying €600 a month rent, then your initial payment might be €600 deposit and €600 month's rent in advance.
  • The deposit amount and deposit conditions (when it will be returned and what affects the deposit) should be recorded in the rent book.
  • Normally the landlord holds on to the deposit as financial security against you breaking the tenancy agreement or damaging the property.
  • You might lose some, or all, of your deposit if you leave the rented accommodation without giving proper notice to the landlord, you damage the landlord's property (normal wear and tear doesn't count) or you leave rent or bills unpaid.

My landlord won't give me back my deposit

  • If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit, you should request the return of the deposit in writing.
  • If your landlord claims there are outstanding rent or bills in your name or there has been damage to the property, you should request documentary evidence from your landlord to back up these claims.
  • If you are still not successful in securing the return of your deposit, you may make a complaint to the Private Residential Tenancies Board. The cost of making a complaint is €25.
  • If your landlord doesn't give you back your deposit contact Threshold for advice.
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Published January 23rd, 2013
Last updated October 29th, 2015
Tags accommodation housing renting
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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