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Renting in Ireland: How to and what to keep in mind

A contract with a tick on it

So you’ve decided to move and are looking to rent a house or flat. If this is your first-time renting, how do you choose a flat, sort your bills out, and what legal rights do you have?


If you’ve been around the rental block a few times and know the hassle that comes from leaving one place and tying up loose ends there, as well as getting everything sorted at your new place, we all also have some tips for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know about renting in Ireland.


Is it difficult to find a place to rent in Ireland?

In short? Yes. Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis. A lack of affordable accommodation and soaring prices have combined to make the search for the perfect home. It’s easy to get caught up in the panic of accepting the first available place but hold steady and have a clear head when it comes to suitability for your personal situation.


How to search for a place to rent in Ireland

The easiest and fastest way to search for a place to rent is clearly the Internet. Top-rated websites for finding a home in Ireland include:

  • Daft.ie
  • MyHome.ie
  • Rent.ie
  • Property.ie
  • Let.ie

You may think that you can just focus on one or two websites, but we recommend checking all of them and setting up alerts for properties that meet your specifications, so you can swoop down on prime rentals as quickly as possible.

While free for people on the house-hunt to use, many of these sites actually charge a fee to homeowners and landlords to rent, so it is entirely possible that one site may have a property that is not available on other websites, due to the advertiser naturally not wishing to pay through the nose.

Also keep in mind that some people aren’t fans of the Internet, whether it be for privacy reasons or otherwise, and in this case may advertise locally. This is why, in the competitive search for a home, checking local newspapers can yield surprising dividends. Advertisements may also be placed in Facebook groups for the area you wish to live in.

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Special considerations for renting in Dublin

Dublin, as the capital city, is naturally more expensive to live in than the rest of the country. The housing crisis and the growing population in the area have pushed monthly rent amounts to astronomical figures. This is why if looking to rent in Dublin, you’ll need to be more open-minded about what are your must-haves in a home, particularly when it comes to location.

I’m sure we would all love to live close to our workplace and cut out the daily commute, but many companies in Dublin are based in industrial areas or high-priced rental zones, such as the city centre, so it seems you may have to accept a bit of a commute.

Some factors to keep in mind when considering renting in Dublin are that the Northside (North of the Liffey) tends to be cheaper than the Southside. You might also want to consider living on the outskirts or even outside Dublin because public transport and traffic in Dublin is not the best.

Limited to a handful of packed trams and buses, with no speedy underground, your best option might be to look at areas that connect to where you need to be via the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport system) trains or other trains. That way you could hop over traffic and most probably spend less time commuting.


Factors to consider when looking for a place to rent

Although you may have your own personal take on what you would like in a home, invariably the four most important factors to consider when on the hunt for a home are:

  1. Cost
  2. Location
  3. Finish
  4. Space

It’s best to have a clear concept of what you need from these four areas before you start hunting for a house to avoid wandering down the garden path and ending up with a property that doesn’t suit your needs.

Cost

a bag of money and several coins

There is no getting around it - you’re going to have to sit down and examine your finances and design a budget for renting. Previous enshrined financial advice promoted the idea that you should spend 30% of your income on housing. While it’s a good rule of thumb, it isn’t always the way to go and here is why.

If you have a high income, for example, €100,000 a year, you may not actually want to spend €30,000 on rent. If you are on a low income, for example, the 2019 national minimum wage of 19,874, spending 30% of your income would leave you with €1159 a month to live on, which may not be enough, depending on your personal situation.

This is why it’s important you sit down and accurately assess how much money you need to live on and figure out the maximum amount you could spend on rent. Is it more or less than 30%? Take it as your absolute limit for rent, and don’t forget to include extras such as concierge service, television licenses, bin fees etc.

Location

As with our advice for renting in Dublin, try not to tie yourself down to just one or two neighbourhoods and consider surrounding areas as well as places that are well-connected for commuting purposes.

If you have a car you’ll also need to consider the likelihood of getting a parking space in the areas you are looking in. Researching crime level in the neighbourhoods is also an important consideration.

Finish

What would you like to have in an apartment? Furnished or unfurnished? Modern or traditional? Recently renovated? Make a list of the things that you would like, and then review it and decide which items are non-negotiable, and which would just be perks.

Space

How large do you need the property to be? Would a studio suit your needs or do you have a family and need more rooms? If you have children and a restrictive budget, can they share a room? You ‘ll also need to consider, if you’re thinking of renting a room instead of an entire property, how many flatmates you are willing to have.


Be prepared

In the current housing climate, properties are snapped up quickly and in the inboxes of property advertisers fill to the brim quickly. Get there first and contact the landlord or agency as soon as possible to arrange a viewing. If a property ticks all the boxes, be prepared to make an offer to the landlord at the viewing.

Make sure to have any documents a landlord or agency might ask you for. This could include:

  • References: from your employer, the bank and a previous landlord.
  • Proof of your home address.
  • Photo ID and copies.
  • Your PPS number.

Remember you’ll also need to have enough money to cover the first month of rent and 1-2 months deposit.

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Firstly, to avoid any issues or arguments over bills, we recommend you take photos of meter readings from the first day of legal occupancy (and also the last day when leaving) and include a newspaper in the photos with that day’s date.

You should also immediately check for any damage to the apartment and repeat the same process, taking photos of defects. Ask for an inventory and check it is correct as otherwise at the end of the contract you may have to pay up for any items on the inventory that are not in the residence.

Particularly if you have a lot of expensive big-ticket items, you may want to consider content insurance. Remember the landlord cannot raise your rent for two years. Always ask for receipts for amounts paid, which you are entitled to within 72 hours.

With the exception, that if you are paying your deposit in cash, ask that you be given a receipt immediately. If you are paying your deposit via bank transfer, clearly write the concept as “deposit for X property", and ask for a receipt, to later avoid any confusion over whether the amount transferred was for rent or for the deposit. You are entitled to a rent book which should serve as a receipt of rent paid.

Now that we have the most basic legal considerations out of the way, we get into the nitty-gritty of rights and terminating leases below.

Know your rights

As a private tenant, you have certain rights and obligations covered under the Residential Tenancies act. Understanding what you are and are not entitled to can save you a lot of time should you run into any issues with your tenancy. The citizen’s information website has a full list of tenancy rights and obligations.

Renting a room

Several moving boxes with items in them

If you are renting a room in your landlord’s home, you are not covered under the Residential Tenancies Board’s legislation. In these cases, it is advisable to agree on some ground rules before beginning the rental term and both the tenant and landlord retain signed copies which can be referred to if any problems crop up.

If any issues arise between you and your landlord, you will need to try to sort them out yourself, or as a last resort, take your case to the Small Claims Court. Note your landlord may qualify for rent relief under the rent-a-room scheme, and you may qualify for payment assistance under the HAP scheme.

If the room you are renting is more like a self-contained flat or studio, on a separate residence on the grounds of the landlord’s home, then you will be covered under the Tenancies Board’s legislation.

The Residential Tenancies Board

The RTB was set up under the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004 and maintains a register of registered tenancies, provides services for resolving a landlord-tenant dispute, and researches the private rented sector.

All tenancies which are in private residences, student accommodation, or with approved housing bodies, must be registered with the RTB. The tenancy registry is public so you can check for yourself that your one has been properly registered on the RTB register check page.

In order to use the RTB’s confidential dispute resolution service, after you have first tried to resolve the situation yourself, you can either submit an application for mediation, or an application for adjudication.

To submit an application for dispute resolution you need to register and then log in to the Residential Tenancies Board website, where you can apply online. Once you’ve begun the process of applying, you can then choose whether you’d prefer free mediation or adjudication.

Mediation involves both parties resolving any issues by working together and can be done over the telephone. Adjudication is a more formal process involving an investigation into the issue and evidence being produced.

Terminating a lease early

A document with a magnifying glass over it

There are two possibilities that fall under early termination of a rental contract. The first is that your landlord wishes to terminate the contract early, the second is that you wish to end the lease.

If your landlord wishes to terminate the lease early they must give you written notice. During the first six months of your lease, your landlord can terminate the lease without telling you why with a minimum of 28 days notice. On rare occasions when your behaviour warrants it, you can be issued with 7 days notice within the first six months.

The notice you are entitled to depends on the length of the tenancy. After the initial six month period, if you are keeping up with your tenant obligations, notice must be:

Tenancy duration

Notice

>1 year

90 days

1 - 3 years

120 days

3 - 7 years

180 days

7 - 8 years

196 days

+8 years

224 days

If, on the other hand, you seek to end your lease agreement early, then it is not that easy. If your landlord has met all their obligations and there is no clause in your tenancy agreement allowing you to exit the property early with an agreed notice period, then your choices are:

  1. Ask the landlord if it is possible to exit your lease early, but they are under no obligation to agree.
  2. Ask your landlord if you can sublet the tenancy. If your landlord refuses, you can then terminate the tenancy.
  3. Do neither of the above and exit the lease early but know that you will be liable for any rent for the months left in your contract and that your deposit cannot be used to settle unpaid rent.

The amount of notice you are required to give depends on the length of your lease.

Tenancy duration

Notice

>6 months

28 days

6 months - 1 year

35 days

1-2 years

42 days

2 - 4 years

56 days

4 - 8 years

84 days

+8 years

112 days

In either case, whether the landlord or you are seeking to end the rental contract, notice must be given in writing (note that notice served via email, text or conversationally is not valid), contain the pertinent dates, and be signed.

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