Friday 15 December 2017

Smart Consumer: Your first lesson for college -- know your renting rights

Tina Leonard

It's going to be where you are eating, sleeping and studying. So if you're heading back to college or starting for the first time, you need to know what rights you have in your new home, and also your obligations as a tenant.

To start with the basics, your new rented home must meet some decent standards based on legislation from 2008.

So, the property should be free from damp, in good structural repair, have hot and cold water, separate bathroom facilities, adequate means of heating and ventilation, the appliances must be in good working order, the electrical wiring, gas, pipes in good repair and so on.

By the way, kitchen facilities must include a four-ring hob with grill and oven, a fridge and freezer, microwave and washing machine.

If this is not the case in a property you view, it shouldn't be for rent, so make sure you get all that you're entitled to.

Before you move in remember to get, and sign, a lease. You are entering into a business arrangement and this is a legally binding contract so read the lease carefully.

It should contain all relevant contact details on the landlord and agent; information on the deposit, rent and how it is to be paid; the term of the lease and also the landlord's obligations as well as your own.

For example, are you allowed put washing out on the balcony and what are the house rules on parties or pets?

An inventory of contents should also be included, and it is important that you check this.

If a coffee table is scratched but that isn't specified, then you'll want to point this out in advance rather than come to blows when you leave.

If damage is caused over and above normal wear and tear this is one reason why a landlord could retain all or part of your deposit when you leave.

And it's also the most contentious area, accounting for 43% of complaints to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), last year.

Your deposit could also be kept if you leave after nine months but your lease is for 12, so if you are a student and don't need the place for a full year, work this out in advance,

Once you have moved in, make sure your privacy is respected; unless there is an emergency your landlord can only enter your home with your pre-arranged permission.

And choose your flat mates carefully!

If one person falls into arrears on bills or rent, you and anyone else living in the place could be held liable and end up having to pay up.

Make sure you know what all the extra charges are such as bin charges and TV, and do check that you're not paying any arrears owed by a previous tenant.

Lastly, get receipts or have a rent book to prove all the rent you are paying.

And if you get behind on rent, be aware that you are in breach of your tenancy obligations.

Just over a fifth of complaints referred to the PRTB by landlords relate to rent arrears and you don't want to be the subject of one.

If you do get into trouble, discuss it immediately with the landlord. You should be notified in writing within 14 days of rent arrears and given time to set things right. If you don't the landlord can give you 28 days' notice to quit.

For more information l Contact the dispute resolution service run by the PRTB on if you have a complaint. The process costs €25. l Threshold offers free advice to tenants: l Seek advice from your Student Union Accommodation Officer

Irish Independent

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