Lease Agreements in Ireland: Are They Compulsory?
You have spent weeks searching for the perfect place to rent, and you finally have found what seems to be the right place until you are presented with a lease agreement to sign. Before excitingly putting pen to paper, take the time to carefully read the clauses to ensure your tenancy rights are respected. We cover below all the essential items you need to have in a lease agreement in Ireland.
What is a Tenancy Agreement?
A tenancy agreement, also known as a lease agreement in Ireland, automatically occurs when you rent a home from a landlord or public housing organisation. The agreement does not have to be in writing, but it cannot contain any clause contrary to the rights and obligations of the tenant or landlord.
There are two main types of residential tenancy agreements in Ireland, these are:
- Fixed-term tenancy
- Periodic tenancy
We look in further detail at each type of tenancy agreement below.
Are there lease agreements for non-residential dwellings? Yes! Many businesses need to rent a local to operate their activity, this type of agreement is known as a commercial lease. Some of our cultivators do not necessarily own the land they harvest but rather operate under a farm lease.
What is a Fixed Term Tenancy Agreement?
A fixed-term tenancy agreement in Ireland is one determined for a specific amount of time. The period covered can be as little as 6 months and up to multiple years. There are various advantages for both parties to a fixed-term lease agreement, these are:
- If you respect your obligations as a tenant, your landlord cannot end your tenancy before the end of the set period of the agreement.
- The tenant will obtain security of tenure after 6 months of renting the property.
- The tenant cannot end the tenancy earlier either unless one of the following occurs:
- Both the tenant and landlord agree to end the tenancy prematurely.
- The tenant has found someone to take their place under a sublet agreement.
- The landlord is not respecting their obligations such as minimum standards.
Please note that if you want to extend the lease agreement beyond the initial agreed period of time, you will need to give proper notice at least one month before the end of the lease.
What is subletting? Subletting occurs when a tenant in turn rents a property to a third party. Usually, this cannot take place without the landlord’s agreement, however, a sublet cannot be refused without a valid reason.
What is a Periodic Tenancy Agreement?
Sometimes referred to as a shorthold tenancy agreement, these lease agreements do not specify any period of time for the rental. They are often either weekly or monthly, in line with the agreed rental payment frequency.
As it adds more flexibility for both the tenant and the landlord, neither party needs to give a valid reason to end the tenancy agreement. The rentee can end the agreement at any time and the landlord can end the lease within the first 6 months. Sufficient notice still needs to be provided by either party if they decide to terminate the accord.
After the initial 6-month rental period, the tenant will then have security of tenure.
What is security of tenure? This gives a tenant the right to stay in the rented accommodation. Once you have security of tenure, a landlord can only terminate your lease agreement for a limited amount of valid reasons.
How to Write a Lease Agreement?
Although not mandatory in Ireland, it is always better to obtain a lease agreement in writing. This avoids any confusion and eases the resolution of any disputes which may arise.
We list here the essential elements that your lease agreement should include:
- Involved Parties.
Every person involved should be listed on the lease agreement. This should name every occupant (ie; spouses or flatmates in student housing for example) as well as the landlord. If you are in shared accommodation or renting a room, then it is wise to distinguish the regular inhabitants to the occasional guests that may stay at the property.
- Amount of the Rent.
This should be detailed in the lease agreement along with the day payment is due. You will also want to include how the rent is to be paid, whether it is by cheque, bank transfer, cash, or other methods.
- Property Inventory.
The residential tenancy agreement should list the items found in the property with an inventory checklist and the state they are in. This will help both landlord and tenant at the end of the tenancy when claiming the rental deposit back. It is also good to include a description of the property which is being rented.
- Lease Agreement Stipulations.
Here you should specify the duration of the agreement if it is a fixed-term or periodic tenancy agreement. The moving in or start date needs to be clearly stated in the accord.
- Special Terms.
If there is anything remotely unique about the agreement reached between the parties, it is important to outline these in the lease agreement. Keep in mind that any unique agreement cannot be contrary to the rights and obligations found in the Residential Tenancy Act. Use this section to clarify certain property rules about such things as smoking, or pets on the property.
- Sign the Lease.
Both the tenant(s) and landlord need to sign and date the lease agreement, otherwise, the agreement is useless. Keep in mind, you will always be protected by the Residential Tenancies Act and are therefore under no obligation to sign any residential tenancy agreement in Ireland. However, a signed lease does ease living harmony and eases conflict resolution should they arise. Signing the agreement acknowledges that all parties have read and agree to the terms and conditions outlined.
What does a break clause mean in a tenancy agreement? A break clause is a term placed in a lease agreement which allows either the tenant or landlord to end the tenancy agreement early under certain conditions.
How to Spot a Fake Lease Agreement?
In today’s challenging housing market in Ireland, it is difficult to find affordable housing. To compound the problem potential tenants need to be careful about rent scams. Here are a few things you can do and ensure you are not looking at a fake lease agreement:
- See if the tenancy is registered with the Residential Tenancies Boards (RTB)
- Don’t rent a property without visiting it first, scammers often copy photos and addresses from existing listings.
- If the letting agreement is contrary to the landlord’s or tenant’s rights and obligations as set out by law. In other words, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it may very well be just that!
- Requesting rental payment in cash, western union, or other money broker service.
How to Get a Lease Agreement?
The first thing you need to verify is the type of lease agreement you are entering, whether you are looking for a commercial lease agreement, fixed-term lease or periodic tenancy agreement.
For ease, we provide you with the following sample lease agreement template for a fixed-term lease in Ireland. Feel free to download and fill in the blank spaces according to your accord.
How to Extend Your Tenancy Agreement
Under a fixed term lease agreement, extending your rental is relatively straightforward. You simply need to formally advise your landlord of your intention to stay between 3 to 1 month before the end of your lease.
Should you receive a rent review or if your tenancy agreement is ending, keep the following points in mind:
- Failure to give sufficient notice to extend your tenancy can result in having to compensate your landlord.
- Your landlord can only put a rent review every 12 months.
- If neither party does anything at the end of the agreement, it will simply continue.
Did you know? If your annual rent is over €30,000, stamp duty for the property is the tenant’s responsibility.
Are Lease or Tenancy Agreements Compulsory in Ireland?
After exploring all of the ins and outs of lease agreements in Ireland we come back down to the initial query, are they compulsory?
As we have seen, written agreements are not mandatory as all parties need to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004, even if something has been signed to the contrary. That said, writing and signing a lease agreement can certainly help avoid misunderstandings and make a more harmonious living situation.
Once again though, before putting your John Hancock on any piece of paper, be sure you fully understand the agreement you are signing as the conditions outlined are legally binding.