Your Housing Rights
The Department of the Environment and Local Government has produced a handy and easy to read guide to housing regulations called "The Charter for Rented Housing". Your local authority is in charge of enforcing these regulations.
What is a rent book
Basically, a rent book is a record of rent and other payments made by a tenant to the landlord. However by law, a rent book must also contain other information related to the tenancy. Usually, a rent book will be in booklet form but it may be in another form provided it contains all the necessary details.
Who is entitled to a rent book
Every tenant paying rent is legally entitled to have a rent book supplied by the landlord. This applies to houses rented by private landlords, voluntary bodies, local authorities or employers, if a rent is payable. A rent book is not needed for a holiday letting.
When must the rent book be supplied
The rent book must be supplied to the tenant by the landlord at the commencement of the tenancy.
What information must be included in the rent book:
- the address of the house
- the name and address of the landlord and of the landlord's agent (if any)
- the tenant's name
- the term (i.e. period) of the tenancy
- the amount of the rent and when and how it is to be paid
- particulars of any payments, other than rent, to be made by the tenant to the landlord for services, e.g. for heating or piped television
- the amount and purpose of any deposit paid by the tenant and the conditions under which it will be refunded by the landlord
- a statement of information which advises tenants of their basic rights
the date of commencement of the tenancy
- an inventory of furnishings and appliances supplied by the landlord for the tenant's exclusive use.
Who makes the entries in the rent book
The landlord must enter the information relating to an individual tenancy in the rent book when it is being given to the tenant. Any subsequent changes in this information must be entered in the rent book by the landlord within one month of the change. This would happen if, for example, there was a rent increase or if the landlord appointed a new agent. The landlord is also responsible for recording the rent and other payments that may be needed if any query arises.
How are rent and other payments recorded - Where rent or other payments for services are made in person by the tenant (or by a person acting for the tenant) to the landlord, the landlord must, at that time either:
- record the payment and sign for it in the rent book, or
- provide a signed receipt containing full details of the payment.
Where payments are made other than in person (e.g. by standing order, bank giro, etc.) the landlord must, within three months, either record and sign for the payment in the rent book or give the tenant a written statement of the payment.
Who holds the rent book
The rent book should be held and carefully looked after by the tenant. It contains details of the letting that have been agreed between the tenant and the landlord and provides a record of rent and other payments that may be needed if any queries arise. The tenant is however, obliged to make the rent book available to the landlord so that the landlord can make any necessary changes in it and record rent and other payments.
Registration of Rented Houses
What houses must be registered - Properties let for rent must be registered with the local housing authority under the Housing (Registration of Rented Houses) Regulations, 1996. There are, certain exemptions from this requirement relating to relatives of landlords etc.
What information must be supplied
The landlord must supply the following information in respect of each letting the address of the house, a description of the house, e.g. a whole house, an apartment, a flat, a single room etc., the name and address of the landlord and, if the landlord has duly appointed an agent, the name and address of such agent, the name of the tenant, the rent and how and when it is to be paid, or the value or nature of any other consideration.
What information is included in the register
The local authority includes the address of the house, the description of the house and the date of receipt by the local authority of the application in a register kept by the authority and available for public inspection.
Who can inspect the register
Any person may, during normal office hours, inspect the register, which must be kept by the local authority at an office designated by them for this purpose.
Will the local authority reveal to a member of the public the name of the tenant or the landlord of a house that is included in the register
No. The information obtained, other than that which is required to be included in the register, is confidential and may not be revealed by the local authority to the public.
Is there a fee for registration
Yes. Each initial application for registration must be accompanied by a fee of €50. Thereafter, an annual fee of €50 is payable in respect of each house, while the house is rented.
Minimum Standards for Rented Accommodation
Are there any standards for rented dwellings - Since 1 January 1994 landlords have had a statutory duty to ensure that their dwellings comply with certain minimum standards.
What are the standards
The standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations, 1993. In summary, they require a landlord to:
- ensure that the house is in a proper state of structural repair
- that it is essentially sound with the roof, floors, ceilings, walls and stairs in good repair
- provide a sink with hot and cold water facilities in each dwelling
- provide toilet and bath or shower facilities (further details below)
- provide adequate means for heating, for installing cooking equipment and for storing food
- maintain installations for the supply of electricity or gas in good repair and safe working order
- provide proper ventilation and lighting to each room
- maintain common facilities for cooking, food storage, lighting and heating in good repair and safe working order
- maintain common sinks, toilets, baths/showers and other common areas in good repair and in a clean condition and
- provide a secure handrail for any common stairway.
The landlord is not responsible for anything a tenant is entitled to remove or for repairing glass breakages in windows in any part of a building of which a tenant has exclusive use.
What are the precise requirements for toilet and bathroom facilities
The tenant must have access to a toilet and a fixed bath or shower.
If the dwelling is a flat in a building containing two or more flats, a toilet and bath or shower must be provided either in the flat itself or elsewhere within the building but not more than one floor above or below the flat.
In general, there must be at least one toilet and bath or shower for each two flats. However, up to four flats may be served by one toilet or by one bath or shower provided the flats are not intended to be occupied by more than four persons in all (e.g. four bedsitters each occupied by one tenant may be served by a single toilet/bath).
Terminating your Tenancy
A notice terminating a tenancy (i.e. a notice to quit served on a tenant by a landlord or a notice of surrender served on a landlord by a tenant) must be in writing and be served on the tenant or landlord not less than four weeks before the date on which the notice is to take effect (section 16 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992).
Seizure of Tenant's Goods - A landlord is prohibited from seizing a tenant's goods as a means of enforcing payment of rent due on a premises let solely as a dwelling (section 19 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992).
Considerations before you agree to rent
Before you agree to the rent, you should observe the following guidelines:
- Make sure you can afford the rent being asked
- Make sure the landlord will give you a rent book.
If the landlord wants to give you a fixed term lease of six months or a year, don't agree to this unless you're sure you want to stay that long. If you leave before the end of a fixed term lease, you may lose your deposit.
You should agree a list of furnishings and appliances provided with the landlord. This will help to prevent disputes when you are leaving. If there are any signs of damage by previous tenants, make sure this is noted too. This list should be included in the rent book .
If there are outstanding repairs, ask the landlord to state in writing that he will carry them out.
Types of Tenancy
There are two main types of tenancy offered by landlords:
- a periodic tenancy
- a lease.
If you don't sign a lease that agrees to rent you the flat or house for a specific period, then you have a periodic tenancy.
There is a further type of tenancy that is relatively rare, called a controlled tenancy. The typical controlled tenant is elderly and has rented their home - let unfurnished for many years - at a low rent. Alternatively, the current tenant may have inherited the tenancy from such a person. Working out whether a tenancy is a controlled tenancy is very complicated and you should seek advice. It is important to be sure because if you have a controlled tenancy, you are entitled to stay in your home for the rest of your life.
This is mostly weekly although it can be monthly. With this tenancy, you pay rent each week or in the case of a monthly tenancy, each month. If you are on social welfare, you may be entitled to a rent supplement to help you with the rent.
The landlord can increase the rent at any time by as much as he/she likes. If you pay weekly, you must be given at least week's notice of a rent increase. If you cannot afford the extra rent and the landlord insists you pay it, you may get a notice to quit.
With this type of tenancy, your landlord can evict you legally at any time without giving any reason as long as the correct procedure is followed.
A lease may be for any period but is usually 6 months or a year. The lease will say how often the rent should be paid and will have other conditions. Make sure you understand a lease before you sign it.
During the period of the lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent unless there is a condition in the lease that specifically states this.
If the yearly rent on the lease is over €7,618.43, you have to pay stamp duty of 1% of the annual rent. It is your responsibility to pay this and it should be paid to the Revenue Commissioners.
If you sign a lease with others, you each become responsible for all the rent so that if your fellow tenants cannot pay their share of the rent, you may be legally liable for the whole lot. During the period of the lease, you can normally only be evicted if you have broken a condition of the lease. If you have done this, for example, you haven't paid the rent, the landlord may be able to evict you as long as the correct procedure is used.
At the end of the lease, your landlord can evict you legally without giving any reason as long as the correct procedure is followed.
This information has been adapted from the Charter from Oasis, Public Service Information for Life. For more details, visit www.oasis.gov.ie
Certain sections of the above Charter are reproduced here on GrabaGAFF.com to make you aware of your entitlements. This material is for informational purposes only and you may not take any action based on it. You should contact your local authority for specific clarification of any matters discussed in this section.