Navigating the ins and outs of renting property can be stressful, especially if not everything runs as smoothly as we would like it to. Sometimes, problems are going to spring up, so it is important to know your rights as a tenant. With the right steps, you can usually get your problem taken care of. If not, you can contact the appropriate authorities for help.
In this article:
- Rental payments
- Rental deposits
- Rent increases
- Your rights when you have trouble paying your rent
- Your rights when your home is being entered without your permission
- Security of tenure
- Housing repairs
Legally, your landlord must keep a written record of all of the payments that you make.
What is a rent book?
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. It is one of your rights as a tenant.
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
- 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
- Information 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 apartment or house (furniture, electrical appliances, etc.). Make sure that you get this list and that everything on it is in place.
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.
When you decide to rent a property, the landlord will usually ask you for a deposit.
How much should the deposit be?
Deposits are often one month’s rent but 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 are moving into a new place. The deposit amount and deposit conditions (when it will be returned and what affects the deposit) should be recorded in the rent book.
When can I lose my deposit?
Normally the landlord holds on to the deposit as financial security against you breaking the tenancy agreement or damaging the property. When you leave, you are entitled to get that deposit back provided you do not break any of your obligations as a tenant. 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.
What can I do if my landlord won’t give me back my deposit?
If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit and you believe you are entitled to it, 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.
You may make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board if you are still not successful in securing the return of your deposit.
The rules regarding rent increases differ depending on where you live in Ireland.
How often can my rent be increased?
If you live in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), rent can be raised every 12 months by no more than 4%.
Outside of Rent Pressure Zones, landlords can only review the rent 24 months after you start renting the property, or 24 months from the date of the last valid rent increase.
Find out more about Rent Pressure Zones.
How much can my rent be increased by?
If you are renting in a RPZ, the RPZ calculator will tell you the highest rate of rent you can be expected to pay. Outside of RPZs, your landlord can’t charge you more than ‘market rent’, which is the going rate for your type of accommodation in the area you live. Check the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) rent index and real estate websites to see how much is being charged for similar properties in your area.
If your landlord requests a rent review, they must give you 90 days’ notice of the new rent, and when it is to start, in writing only.
What can I do if I do not agree with the rent review?
If an increase in rent is a problem for you, there are steps you can take. First, you can try to negotiate the increase over a longer amount of time with your landlord.
If you can’t reach an agreement, you can refer the review to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) within 28 days of being notified of the review. You should continue paying the same rent during this process until a decision is made. However, it’s also possible that the RTB will accept the review, and add the charge of the higher rent to rent that was paid during the proceedings
If having to pay higher rent could make you lose your tenancy or become homeless, you can contact Threshold for help.
Your rights when you have trouble paying your rent
As a tenant, you have a responsibility to pay the rent on time and in full every month. If you are struggling with that, or are building up rent arrears or late fees, it is important not to ignore them.
If you cannot afford your rent, it is important to be aware of the law surrounding rent costs. There are rules around how much rent a landlord can charge you and how often rent can be increased, and these rules vary depending on where you live in Ireland.
If your rent is in line with the law and you still cannot afford it, there are several steps you can take:
- Keep track of how much money you owe. It is your landlord’s job to keep a rent book, which keeps track of your payments as well as how much money you may owe
- If you cannot pay your rent it is best to be honest with your landlord and to contact them as soon as possible so that you can organise a solution together
- Check if you are able to apply for Rent Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to help you with the payments
If you are anxious or unsure about how to talk to your landlord there are supports that can help. Contact Threshold and they can offer you advice on the best ways to communicate with your landlord.
Your rights when you have been given notice due to rent arrears
When you fail to pay your rent in full by the due date, your tenancy could be in trouble. If you inform your landlord that you are struggling before you are in arrears (you have not paid your rent), you might be able to work something out before you receive a notice. If you are given a notice, there are still rules your landlord must follow:
- You must be given written notice of the fact that you are in arrears
- If you have not paid what you owe in 28 days or come to an agreement, your landlord must give you a minimum of 28 days in which to leave and they must give this notice in writing
- Your landlord cannot seize your belongings, forcibly remove you or your belongings, change the locks, or cut off your utilities; this is an illegal eviction and should be reported
Read more about what to do if you’re facing eviction.
Your rights when your home is being entered without your permission
Privacy is one of your right as a tenant. Even though your landlord owns the property, it is still your home, and they are not allowed to show up unannounced, or enter whenever they want (except in cases of emergency).
How can I ensure my privacy as a tenant?
There are ways to make sure your privacy is respected while you are a tenant. Discuss everything, and get your agreements down in writing. There are lots of things you and your landlord may need to reach agreements on, such as:
- How often inspections should be carried out
- How much notice you will be given before each one
- When and how repairs will be made
- Whether or not a repair person can enter your residence if you are not present
- Whether or when, during the end of your tenancy, the landlord can enter to show the place to a potential new tenant
If the agreements you and your landlord make are not being respected, or if your landlord repeatedly enters your property without your permission, you can file a complaint with the RTB.
Security of tenure
Once you have been renting a property for six months or more, your rights as a tenant change.
What is a Part 4 tenancy?
If you have been renting for six months or more, you automatically get the right to stay in that property for several more years. This is called a Part 4 tenancy, and it guarantees your housing rights. 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.
If you have a fixed term lease, you have to claim a Part 4 tenancy in writing. To do this, you must notify your landlord of your intention to continue to rent that property between three months and one month before your lease is up.
After the first cycle (four or six years) of your Part 4 tenancy, a new tenancy begins, known as a further Part-4 tenancy. The landlord can only end you tenancy with a valid reason, such as:
- You have not carried out your obligations as a tenant (for example, paying the rent on time)
- The property no longer suits your needs (for example, it has become overcrowded)
- The landlord intends to sell the property within 9 months
- The landlord needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member
- The landlord plans to change the business use of the property (for example, turn it into office space instead of residential)
- The landlord wants to carry out substantial refurbishments
If the landlord wants to end your tenancy for any of the reasons above, they much give you a valid written notice of termination.
Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that your rental property is in good condition. By law, they must maintain the exterior and interior of a property and carry out any necessary repairs to ensure the property meets certain basic minimum standards.
How do I request a repair?
If something in the property you are renting is broken, you can take the following steps:
- Tell your landlord, in writing, and give them the necessary time to address the problem
- If you think your property doesn’t meet minimum standard requirements, you should contact your local authority
- If you are having trouble getting your landlord to cooperate, you can contact Threshold for advice
There is no specific legal timeframe for when repairs should be carried out, but Threshold provide some guidelines that you should expect your landlord to go by.
Routine repairs that pose no threat and aren’t particularly urgent, such as a dripping tap, should be carried out in 14 days.
Urgent repairs are those that could be dangerous or cause you a lot of discomfort, such as a broken fridge or mould build-up. These should be resolved in no more than five days.
Emergency repairs are those that could cause serious damage or even loss of life, such as faulty wiring or damage due to flood. These should be resolved immediately.
If your landlord does not resolve the issue and you have contacted them several times, you may pay for the repair or replacement yourself and seek reimbursement from the landlord.
Can I decorate my rental property?
If you want to change the appearance of your rental property considerably, you will need your landlord’s permission, in writing. However, you cannot change the locks. If you are having trouble with someone entering your property without your permission, you can contact Threshold for more advice.
Joining a tenancy union
One way to stand up for your rights is to join a union. Community and Tenants Union (CATU) Ireland is a union for renters, council tenants, mortgage holders and people in emergency and precarious living situations in Ireland. Their mission is to protect the rights and interests of renters in Ireland. You can get involved in their activities become a member. Find out more about joining CATU.
Need more information?
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