Advice for Tenants - Godfrey Grant Property Consultants

Home Advice for Tenants - Godfrey Grant Property Consultants
  • (1) What documents should I have for the landlord/agent?
  • (2) What is a fixed term tenancy?
  • (3) What additional costs will I be responsible for during the tenancy?
  • (4) What duties do I owe the landlord?
  • (5) What duties does the landlord owe me?
  • (6) Condition of the property?
  • (7) Who is responsible for necessary repairs during the course of the tenancy?
  • (8) Getting my deposit back?

 (1) What documents should I have for the landlord/agent?

At the time of viewing a property we advice that you have a photocopy of the following;

  1. (i)             Passport/Driving Licence with your PPS Number attached.
  2. (ii)           Current employment reference.
  3. (iii)          Current or most recent landlord reference
  4. (iv)          Copy of Bank Statement.
  5. (v)           Contact details

If you have all these documents with you and there are a number of interested parties without the above vying for the property you will automatically stand out and have an advantage as you are so well prepared something both a landlord and an agent will appreciate.

(2) What is a fixed term tenancy?

A fixed-term tenancy is an agreement that covers a specific amount of time. The agreement is generally set down in writing. This written contract is called a lease. A lease may be for any period, but most commonly ranges from as little as six months up to a year or more. The lease will state how much rent you have to pay, how often you have to pay it and other conditions. You are strongly advised to make sure that you understand the terms of the lease before you sign it. A lease is a binding contract between you and the landlord and contains important information on the terms of your tenancy.

However a lease cannot contain terms that contradict the legal rights of tenants and landlords. If this happens, your legal rights as a landlord or tenant supersede the terms in the lease. For example, landlords cannot enter the property at any time without seeking your permission. This is the case even where their right to enter the property at any time is stated in your lease. Adequate and reasonable notice must be given, normally between 48-24 hours notice.

If you sign a lease with others, (that is, you are sharing the accommodation and rent with other people) you each become responsible for all the rent. So, if your fellow tenants cannot pay their share of the rent, you may be legally liable for the entire amount. If you sign a lease on behalf of the other tenants you become responsible for all the rent.

The differences between the two types of tenancies have become less important since the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (pdf) came into effect. Under this legislation tenants have much more security than they used to have. You now have the right to stay in rented accommodation for the remainder of a 4-year period, following an initial 6-month probationary period. This type of tenancy is known as a Part 4 tenancy.

(3) What additional costs will I be responsible for during the tenancy?

You will generally be responsible for addition expenses but this will al depend on a lease by lease basis as some rents may include utilities etc. The most common additional expenses are;

  • –       Electricity,
  • –       Gas,
  • –       Telephone/Internet
  • –       T.V licence
  • –       Stamp Duty if the annual rent exceeds €30,000.
  • –       Contract cleaners at the expiration of your lease

It has not yet been decided as of from 2013 who will be responsible for the household tax and water rates that may be introduced.

(4) What duties do I owe the landlord?

The duties a tenant owes to landlord will vary on a letting by letting basis and are outlined in the lease agreement.

But generally speaking a tenant is obliged to pay to the landlord or his agent the agreed rent in full in the fashion as specified in the lease and on time. Tenants are also responsible as to not cause wanton damage to the property and not to use the property for a purpose contrary to the intended purpose the property was rented for.

The tenant is also obliged to allow the landlord or an agent on his behalf to inspect the property throughout the year provided reasonable notice has been given.

(5) What duties does the landlord owe me?

Again the landlords duties, obligations and responsibilities may vary from letting to letting and can be found in the lease agreement. However, tenants have the added protection of the Residential Tenancy Act 2004. Irrespective of whether the landlord specified his duties under the lease he will be responsible under the 2004 Residential Tenancy Act to abide by the legislation further a landlord cannot contract out of their responsibilities.

The main responsibility of the landlord is to provide the property in habitual condition and to allow the tenant have free peaceful possession of the property without disturbance from the landlord.

(6) Condition of the property?

Before renting a unit, a landlord must make the rental unit fit to live in, or “habitable.”

The property should be rented in a habitual condition so as to be fit for the purpose of residing in the property without the risk of danger to anyone residing in the property.

There are many kinds of repair problems that could make a rental unit unlivable. The implied warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain their rentals in a condition fit for the “occupation of human beings.” In addition, the rental unit must “substantially comply” with building and housing code standards that materially affect tenants’ health and safety.

A dwelling may be considered uninhabitable if it substantially lacks any of the following:

  • –     Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
  • –     Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system.
  • –     Gas facilities in good working order.
  • –     Heating facilities in good working order.
  • –     An electric system, including lighting, wiring and equipment, which is in good working order.
  • –     Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage) which are free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin.
  • –     Floors, stairways and railings in good repair.

In addition to these requirements, each rental unit must have all of the following:

  • –     A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower; the toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room that is ventilated and allows for privacy.
  • –     A kitchen with an adequately functioning sink, taps and drainage
  • –     Fire blanket or extinguisher. 

(7) Who is responsible for necessary repairs during the course of the tenancy?

Landlords must repair problems that make a rental unit unfit to live in, or “uninhabitable.” While the unit is being rented, the landlord must do maintenance work and make repairs which are necessary to keep the unit livable.

Under the implied warranty level of habitability, the landlord is responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit’s habitability. Whether the landlord or the tenant is responsible for making less serious repairs is usually determined by the rental agreement.

For example, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix a leaking roof because the implied warranty of habitability requires that the roof not leak. But the implied warranty of habitability does not require the landlord to repair damages that are caused by the tenant’s family, guests or pets, or to clean up trash that is left by tenants or those for whom the tenant is responsible.

(8) Getting my deposit back?

This is the biggest cause of disputes. Essentially a tenant is entitled to their full deposit back within a responsible time (normally within 7 days) if they satisfy the following;

  1. (i)             They have resided in the property for the full duration of their lease, or if there is no lease in place they have given the adequate notice period under the Residential Tenancy Agreement 2004.
  2. (ii)           They have paid all their rent up until vacating the property.
  3. (iii)          All utility bills have been discharged or the accounts have been transferred with them.
  4. (iv)          The property is in the same condition it was in when they first took over possession less a reasonable level of wear and tear.
  5. (v)           The inventory is the same as when they moved in and nothing has been broken or if it has that it has already been replaced by a similar item of the same quality.

In relation to (i) it is critical for tenants to understand what they agreement they are entering into. Many tenants are of the believe that they are always able to terminate their tenancy provided they give 1 months notice even though there is a fixed term lease in place. This is not the position, further technically a landlord is entitled to be compensated for any lost rent he may suffer from the breach of the lease. However, a tenant is allowed to find another suitable tenant to assign the remainder interest in the lease to as the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent to the assignment.

In relation to point (iv) and (v) above we always advise our tenants to record on their phones if possible the condition of the property on the date they take occupation showing the condition the property was in.