How to Make a Residential Tenancy Agreement

It is not unusual for the owner of a business to lease residential property and offer key employees accommodation as part of their benefits package. While renting a dwelling may seem like a very straightforward proposition, especially for a business person, a large percentage of those who have leased residential property can tell at least one horror story of disputes with a landlord. Many of those stories stem from disagreements that could have been avoided if the landlord and tenant clearly understood their own and each other’s rights and responsibilities, and had entered into a clearly written Residential Tenancy Agreement.

The key to a congenial landlord-tenant relationship is the understanding and acknowledgement that each party does in fact have both legal rights and legal responsibilities, many of which are prescribed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

For example, under Irish law a tenant is entitled to: be charged a fair market rent; enjoy the quiet and peaceful occupation of the dwelling; be in contact with the landlord when reasonably necessary, and; obtain reimbursement for reasonable expenditures on any repairs made for which the landlord was responsible. On the other hand, in addition to being obligated to pay the rent, the tenant must avoid causing damage beyond normal wear and tear, refrain from anti-social behavior, and not take any action that would invalidate the landlord’s insurance or cause the landlord to be in breach of any law. Tenants must also inform the landlord of the identity of the occupants and refrain from altering or sub-letting the property without the landlord’s permission. In addition, the landlord must be given the opportunity to enter the premises for routine inspections and to carry out repairs.

A landlord may not rent property that does not meet certain minimum legal standards, must carry out necessary repairs to maintain those standards, and must insure the property. In addition, the landlord must provide the tenant with either a rent book or lease and must give the tenant proper notice to quit the property. When the tenant leaves, the landlord must refund deposits subject to unpaid rent and damage beyond normal wear and tear.

If the tenant fails to comply with his or her obligations, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy. If the landlord fails to comply with his or her legal obligations, the tenant may file a complaint with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), which was established to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants and to operate a tenancy registration system.

The landlord is required to register the tenancy with the PRTB, and the tenant must provide the landlord with the information necessary to do so. The PRTB deals with such matters as: the refund of deposits; breaches of obligations on the part of either the landlord or tenant; failure to terminate a tenancy correctly, and; claims for damages and rent. Anyone wishing to refer a dispute to the PRTB may contact it directly.

It is not possible to contract out of the obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, but the landlord and tenant may agree on more favorable terms for the tenant. A typical Residential Tenancy Agreement includes the following provisions:

  • Interpretation
  • Grant of tenancy
  • Permitted occupier
  • Break date
  • Break notice
  • Contents of dwelling
  • Rent
  • Method of payment of rent
  • Deposit
  • Use of property
  • Assignment or subletting
  • Repairs and alterations
  • Utilities
  • Landlord's covenants
  • Tenant’s covenants
  • Default by the tenant
  • Landlord's right to enter
  • Expiration of the tenancy

Both landlords and tenants are entitled to seek a rent review after 12 months in order to adjust the rent to the going market rate.  Afterwards, unless something has changed to warrant additional reviews, rent can be reviewed only once a year. Tenants must be notified in writing of the revised rent at least 28 days before it is due to take effect.

Unless the Residential Tenancy Agreement states otherwise, the landlord can terminate the tenancy without specifying grounds during the first 6 months. However, under Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, after the tenant has been renting for at least 6 months, he or she may remain in the dwelling for up to an additional three and a half years (and after that the same four-year cycle begins again). This is known as a Part 4 tenancy.

If a tenant has a fixed-term lease and wishes to remain in the dwelling as a Part 4 tenant, he or she must notify the landlord of the intention to stay within a statutorily prescribed period prior to the expiration of the fixed term. If the landlord is not notified, the tenant cannot be denied the rights under Part 4, but may have to pay the landlord any damage incurred due to the failure to notify.

During the Part 4 tenancy period, the landlord can only terminate the tenancy under certain specified circumstances, including:

  • The tenant is in breach of the statutory or contractual obligations
  • The landlord intends to sell the dwelling in the next 3 months
  • The landlord requires the dwelling for his or her own occupation
  • The landlord intends to refurbish the dwelling
  • The landlord intends to change the business use of the dwelling.

The person ending the tenancy—whether the landlord or tenant—must serve a Notice of Termination on the other party that is in conformance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, both in terms of length and content of notice. The required length of notice is stated in the act and depends on the length of tenancy to date. If the Notice of Termination is given by the landlord, it must be in writing, state the reason for termination, and state the termination date.

Upon termination, the landlord is required to promptly refund the deposit, less any deductions for outstanding rent and damage in excess of normal wear and tear. If the landlord retains all or part of the deposit, he or she must provide the tenant with a written explanation of the reasons for the retention.

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