Residential Tenancies Act - What are my rights and obligations under a tenancy?

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The rights and obligations of landlords and tenants are set out in landlord and tenant law, as well as in the lease or tenancy agreement between the landlord and tenant. The main legislation governing these rights and obligations is contained in the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 to 2015 which can be accessed on the Irish Statute Book website.

The Residential Tenancies Acts apply to every dwelling that is the subject of a tenancy, subject to a limited number of exceptions which are set out in section 3(2) of the Act. Dwellings which are exempt from the Act include e.g. public authority dwellings, holiday homes and dwellings within which the landlord also resides.

Further information on the Residential Tenancies Acts can be found in the ‘Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act Leaflet’.

On 4 December 2015, the most recent tenancy legislation was enacted.  The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced a range of new provisions including:

  1. the extension of the Act to the Approved Housing Body sector;
  2. the legal basis for a tenancy deposit protection scheme;
  3. the transfer of the functions of the Rent Tribunal to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB);
  4. the extension of the period between rent reviews from 12 months to 24 months for a 4 year period;
  5. the extension of the period of notice of a new rent that a landlord must give a tenant, from 28 days to 90 days.

Points 1, 3, 4 and 5 have been commenced. Point 2 will be commenced by Commencement Order in due course.

How is my rent set?

Rents are determined by supply and demand in the market.  A landlord may not charge more than the market rate.  In general, rents may only be reviewed once every 24 months.  Full details on the law regarding rents are set out in Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended.

Rent Stability and Housing Supply Measures

Details of the full package of new rent stability and housing supply measures are available in the document ‘Stabilising Rents, Boosting Supply’.

Security of Tenure

Security of tenure under the Residential Tenancies Acts is based on rolling four-year tenancy cycles. During the first 6 months of a tenancy, a landlord may end the tenancy without giving any reason, provided the tenant is given 28 days’ notice.

Where a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of 6 months and no notice of termination has been served in respect of that tenancy before the expiry of the period of 6 months, the tenancy is established for the remainder of the four year period.  This is referred to in the Act as a ‘Part 4’ tenancy.

Landlords and tenants may not contract out of any of the provisions of Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act and no lease, tenancy agreement, contract or other agreement may operate to vary or modify the provisions of Part 4 of the Act.

Where a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months and less than 4 years, section 34 of the Act provides that the landlord must state in the termination notice the reason the tenancy is being terminated and the termination will not be valid unless that reason relates to one of the following:

  • the tenant has failed to comply with the obligations of the tenancy;
  • the landlord intends to sell the dwelling within the next 3 months;
  • the dwelling is no longer suited to the needs of the occupying household;
  • the landlord requires the dwelling for own or family member occupation;
  • vacant possession is required for substantial refurbishment of the dwelling;
  • the landlord intends to change the use of the dwelling.

Section 56 of the Act provides that where there is an abuse of the termination procedure in section 34, a tenant may bring a complaint to the RTB that they have been unjustly deprived of possession of a dwelling by their landlord.

Notice periods for the termination of a tenancy vary depending on the duration of the tenancy but periods of up to 224 days for landlords and 112 days for tenants are provided for under the Act. Where there is a dispute regarding the appropriate period of notice to be given in respect of a tenancy or the validity of a notice of termination, or where the tenant does not comply with the notice of termination, the dispute may be referred to the RTB for resolution.

Where a tenant remains after 4 years, this is referred to as a ‘further Part 4 tenancy’. This is the beginning of a new tenancy cycle.