Q & A with the National Housing Charity Threshold
How can I find private rented accommodation?
Do not rush in and take the first place you see, as this could lead to problems later. Instead, take the time to ensure that the property is right for you, the rent is affordable, it is in the right location and in good condition and that you are happy with the terms and conditions of the letting.
Can a landlord refuse me?
A landlord may not offer you a property provided the refusal is not based on one of the nine discriminatory grounds found in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2011. The Government is also proposing to make it unlawful to discriminate against tenants in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance payments, or other social welfare payments.
Do I have to pay a deposit?
Normally you will be asked to pay a security deposit when renting which is held by the landlord. Do not hand over any money until you are happy with the property and the terms. Avoid paying in cash and always get a receipt.
Do I have to sign a lease?
There is no requirement for a written agreement such as a lease, but your landlord must give you a rent book which records the details of your tenancy and payments. If you are given a lease, read it carefully and if necessary get advice.
Does my tenancy have to be registered?
Your landlord has one month within which to register a tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). If your tenancy is not registered, you can report this to the PRTB.
What condition should the property be in?
Landlords must ensure that the property meets basic minimum standards, including being in a proper state of structural repair and free from damp.
Other requirements include: fixed heating appliances which the tenant controls; facilities for cooking, preparation and food storage, clothes washing and drying; adequate ventilation; fire blanket and fire alarms.
Report all repair issues immediately to your landlord. There are no legal guidelines as to when repairs should be carried out, but Threshold recommends that emergency repairs should be carried out immediately where there is a danger to human life .
Urgent repairs should be carried out within 3-5 days.
Routine repairs should be carried out within 14 days.
If your landlord is not carrying out repairs, you cannot withhold rent, as this will put your tenancy at risk. But you should contact your local city or county council, who are responsible for inspecting private rented accommodation.
Is there a limit to how much my rent can be increased?
Your rent can normally only be reviewed once every 12 months. You must be given 28 days' written notice of the amount of the new rent and the date payment is to start from.
The rent cannot be more than the 'market rent' which you can gauge from a number of sources including the PRTB rent index.
On average, rents have gone up 8pc in the past year.
If you wish to challenge the rent review, you can refer it to the PRTB within 28 days.
What will happen if I cannot pay the rent?
Inform the landlord immediately and try to reach a solution such as a repayment plan. Rent arrears potentially put your tenancy at risk and if your landlord wants to end the tenancy they must give you written notice of the rent arrears and, if after 14 days you do pay the rent, they can give a minimum of 28 days' notice of termination in writing.
Can my landlord end my tenancy if they are selling the property?
This will depend upon whether you have a current lease or not. Normally notice cannot be given during a fixed-term agreement unless there is a break clause, there is a breach of obligations or both you and the landlord agree.
Where there is no fixed-term agreement, a valid notice of termination must be given in writing. In the first six months, your landlord does not have to give you a reason but thereafter you automatically acquire additional rights (this is called a Part 4 Tenancy). The longer you are in a tenancy, the more notice you are entitled to, up to 112 days for four years or more.
If you have been given notice and wish to challenge it, you have 28 days to refer a dispute to the PRTB. Under no circumstances can a landlord take the law into their own hands and remove you or your belongings.
What do I do if the property has gone into receivership?
Where a receiver has taken over the property, it can be confusing for tenants but you are still entitled to your statutory rights. You should seek a deed of appointment and get clarification in relation to the return of your deposit, rent payments and responsibility for the day to day management of the property.
Am I entitled to get my deposit back when I leave?
Your landlord does not have to return your deposit on the day you leave but it should be returned 'promptly'. Deductions may be made equivalent to any amount of arrears in rent, other charges or taxes payable, or damage above normal wear and tear.
At the end of the tenancy, ensure all rent and bills are paid, clean the property, remove all belongings and take photos of the condition the property has been left in. Return the keys. Request receipts for any deductions.
What can I do if I need further help?
If you require further advice, visit www.threshold.ie or phone 1890 334 334. Disputes may be referred to the PRTB online at www.prtb.ie.