Tenants in Ireland: A Comprehensive Handbook

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So you are looking to rent a property but aren’t sure what your rights and obligations are? Perhaps you are wondering if your landlord is acting appropriately or if you are in need of financial assistance? Discover these answers and much more in our comprehensive handbook for tenants in Ireland.

What Are Tenant Rights Like in Ireland?

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Before we go into the nitty-gritty details, it is important to know that, as a tenant, you have both rights and obligations to follow as set by the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004.

We understand it can sometimes be difficult to find a good place to rent or know if the property you plan to rent from is respecting the tenancy laws and regulations.

As such, we list below your rights as a tenant. Note that your lease agreement may contain additional clauses with further details on your rights:

  1. Ireland has minimum standards of accommodation which need to be met by your landlord.
  2. The property you are renting needs to have a Building Energy Rating (BER) report. This allows you to evaluate the home’s energy efficiency before signing the lease.
  3. Obtain a rent book.
  4. Enjoy quiet and private use of the home you are renting.
  5. Able to reach your landlord or representative at any reasonable time. Adequate contact information should be provided to you.
  6. Except in an emergency situation, your landlord needs to obtain your permission before entering the premises. This includes repairs or inspections.
  7. You should receive a minimum amount of notice in case the landlord wants to end your tenancy.
  8. You should receive a minimum of 90 days’ notice if your landlord wants to review your rent. Rent review can only be applied a limited amount of times.
  9. You should be reimbursed for any repair expenses that fall under the landlord’s responsibility.
  10. You can obtain a copy of the tenancy registration.
  11. You can lodge a dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalised for it.

What is a tenant? The tenant definition provided by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) is a person who rents a property from its owner. This could be either a house, flat or even just a room in a house share. In any of these circumstances, you’ll be protected by your tenant rights.

Occupants living in specific student housing have a few differences to note from the above list, these are:

  • There is no security of tenure under student housing.
  • Consequently, students can give as little as 28 days’ notice to end their tenancy.

Students also have to manage different energy bills and other costs from the rest of the population since there are usually student discounts.

Check Out Our Student Costs Guide!

If you happen to be placed in social housing or live in cooperative housing, there are a few differences to note about your tenant rights, these are:

  • Some of the minimum standards of accommodation do not apply to social housing, such as providing a washing machine for example.
  • You can obtain security of tenure after 6 months in the property. This means you will be able to stay in the same place for multiple years.
  • A landlord cannot end your tenancy if they plan to move into the home as their main dwelling.
  • Your rent review cannot be held more than once a year unless specified otherwise in the agreement.

Rental Financial Help Those suffering from financial hardships can also apply for the HAP scheme. The programme gives funding and pays your monthly rent directly to your landlord for you.

Suggestions for Furnished Tenants

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Should you want to rent a furnished accommodation, we would suggest you take the following additional precautions:

  • Make a list of the home’s content and furniture.
  • Write down any damage to any of these items.
  • Take photos of the property’s content
  • Identify items which do not work properly or are broken.
  • Make sure both you and the landlord sign the list.

The RTB has a great sample for an inventory and condition report you can download or you can download our Inventory Checklist!


What If I Have No Lease?

Not all landlords provide a lease to sign, nor are you obliged to sign one as a tenant.

No lease tenant rights and obligations are the same in Ireland as renters with a lease. No agreement can take away your privileges held under the Equal Status Act or the Residential Tenancies Act.

Tenants who sign a lease agreement should read it carefully before signing and ensure they can meet all the obligations listed. If you have any doubts or do not fully understand an agreement you are asked to sign, you should always get a second opinion or hire a solicitor.

What Are the Tenant Obligations in Ireland?

Having rights and being protected from nasty landlords is one thing, however, one cannot forget that tenants also have obligations to comply with.

If you are renting a property from a landlord, here are some of your obligations as a tenant:

  1. Pay your rent on time
  2. Pay other expenses outlined in your rental agreement such as energy bills, broadband, bin collection, TV licence, etc.
  3. You must advise the landlord if you have someone else moving into the property with you.
  4. Advise your landlord if maintenance or repairs are required.
  5. Not damage the property or be a nuisance (keep noise levels down!)
  6. Provide the landlord with access to the property for inspection.
  7. Provide the landlord with the required information to register the tenancy and sign the RTB form.
  8. Respect the adequate tenant notice period in Ireland when you decide to end the tenancy.

As with your tenant rights, social housing renters have the following extra obligation to respect:

  • You may not sublet or transfer the tenancy.

Should you ever have a dispute with your landlord, it will be more difficult for your rights to be upheld if you do not respect your obligations.

What Are the Landlord Obligations Towards Tenants?

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Apart from meeting the minimum standards of accommodation, the other main responsibility of the landlord is to complete the tenant registration process.

If you are adding a tenant to a council house in Ireland, you usually need to seek authorisation from the local authority first.

Check out the rent-a-room scheme if you are looking for a tenant to rent a room to instead of an entire property. There are very different rights and obligations that apply in such a scenario.

The RTB is a great resource for landlords if you want to know how much notice to give a tenant or how to evict a tenant in Ireland.

If, on the other hand, you have had a great experience with your renters, you may want to know how to write a reference letter for a tenant. Here are some quick tips on what your letter should include:

  • The date of the letter.
  • The tenants’ full legal name.
  • The address the tenant rented and the duration of the tenancy.
  • If the tenant paid on time or not.
  • In what state did they leave the property.
  • Include some information about their behaviour. Were they quiet and respectful or loud?
  • Include your contact information and details.
  • Describe the relationship between the two parties.

How To Resolve a Dispute with Your Landlord?

Should you be in the unfortunate situation of having a dispute with your landlord, rest assured that you do have some recourse available.

First and foremost, we would always recommend you try your utmost to settle your differences with your landlord directly. It will avoid everyone involved with many headaches and stress.

Quick tip! Try to keep the conversation informal in a relaxed atmosphere. Open-ended questions tend to work better, for example; ‘Can you think of possible solutions for this?’ better than ‘You need to do this or that.’ - let them make the suggestion - your landlord cannot say no to something they themselves suggest whereas it is much easier to say no to any request you ask.

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If you are unable to find a suitable solution to the problem, you are first presented with the following two options:

  1. Mediation 
    This is a free service offered by the RTB to help both parties find a peaceful solution.
  2. Adjudication This is a more formal process with the RTB where both parties are asked to present evidence supporting their case.

Should either of these options fail to reach a dispute resolution, you can then take your case before the tribunals. You must receive an adjudicator's decision on your case before you can go to the courts under an appeal of the decision.

If you accept the adjudicator's decision or, after the tribunal’s decision, you will receive what is called a Binding Determination Order. This decision is final and legally binding to all parties involved in the case.

This is why it is always better to do everything you can to resolve your differences directly. One cannot know what the courts or adjudicator may decide, settling ahead of time ensures you won’t be left worse off by a legal decision.

Is There Any Tenant Assistance in Ireland?

Let’s face it, whether you're renting in Dublin or renting in Cork, with the ongoing housing crisis, house and rental prices continue to be ridiculously high in Ireland.

To fight these price hikes, the Government has established a few schemes to help tenants financially, these are:

  1. Tenant Purchase Scheme 2022 
    If you happen to be renting a local authority property which is coming up for sale, you can purchase the home. There are a variety of eligibility criteria to meet but this can quickly turn your monthly rent expense into an investment.
  2. Rent To Buy Scheme 
    With the rent-to-buy scheme, specific homes can be rented for a few years before one can decide whether they want to opt to buy the property or not. Perfect for first-time home buyers who do not have the required capital deposit.
  3. HAP Scheme 
    Open to citizens in need, local authorities pay your monthly rent directly to the landlord for you. In turn, you have to pay a reduced portion of the monthly rent to the local authority. The amount to pay is determined in line with your means and earnings.
  4. Other Schemes 
    If you are tired of renting and would like to make the move to becoming a homeowner, the Government has multiple other help-to-buy programmes available.

If it is more advice, support, or general information about being a tenant in Ireland you are looking for then have a look at the following two main governing bodies:

  1. Residential Tenancies Board 
    The RTB deals with everything that occurs between landlords and tenants in Ireland. They are a great resource and can even intervene for free in case of a dispute.
  2. Citizens Information 
    The organisation handles everything for consumer protection and this includes a great section on tenant rights and obligations in Ireland.

Be sure to also browse through our other tenant guides and tips for further assistance.

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