Landlord & Tenant


RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT, 2004


The regulation of residential tenancies has been modified in significant ways by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The entire Act is now in force.

The new rules

The Act applies to most dwellings that are the subject of a tenancy. For these purposes, a dwelling is a property let for rent or valuable consideration as a self-contained residential unit, even if only part of the building is used as a dwelling. The definition extends to any out-office, yard, garden or other land adjoining the relevant building. However, certain dwellings and lettings are excluded from the Act. Examples are premises used for business, tenancies of holiday homes, a dwelling in which the landlord resides, and employment-related lettings.

The Act applies to lettings that existed on 1 September 2004, and lettings entered into after that date.

What's in, what's out

Key changes to the previous law are:

  • a tenant may now contract out of the right to a new tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1980, known as a 'long occupation tenancy';
  • a tenant's right to a long occupation equity lease is unaffected if the entitlement arises before 1 September 2009; however, such a tenant may renounce that right in return for being allowed to continue in the tenancy under the terms of the new Act;
  • minimum notice periods have been amended;
  • the landlord's right of forfeiture and re-entry has been abolished; and
  • registration requirements are more comprehensive.

However, key features of the previous law have been retained. They include:

  • a tenant's entitlement to a rent book, including details of the terms of the tenancy;
  • the tenant's right to proper standards of accommodation;
  • the obligation of a landlord to register each rented dwelling, although the details required are much more comprehensive;
  • criminal penalties for breach of the Act.

Termination of a residential tenancy 

The initial six month period of a letting is treated as a 'probationary period'. During this period a landlord may terminate a tenancy without having to specify any reason, upon giving notice to the tenant. However, a series of separate six month lettings will be treated as continuous occupation by the relevant tenant.

When a tenant has been in continuous occupation for a period longer than six months, and providing the landlord has not served a termination notice within that initial six month period, the tenant is entitled to an additional lease of three and a half years duration commencing at the end of the initial six month period (a "Part 4 Tenancy"). During a Part 4 Tenancy a landlord may only terminate on specific grounds ("just cause"). Those grounds include:

  • non-payment of rent;
  • breach of tenancy obligations (especially anti-social behaviour);
  • where the landlord wants to sell the dwelling within the following three months;
  • where the landlord wants to substantially refurbish the dwelling so that vacant possession is required;
  • where the landlord wants to change the use of the dwelling; and
  • where the landlord wants the dwelling for occupation by himself or a family member (family member is widely defined).

The reason for a termination must be set out in the termination notice, which the tenant may appeal to the Board. A tenant may terminate a lease at any time, but must give the required notice (see table below).

A tenant's protection runs in successive four year periods so that on the expiration of any four year period, a landlord may give notice to terminate within the following six months, without the requirement for "just cause". However, to terminate such a 'renewed' Part 4 Tenancy within its first six months, a landlord must give the tenant 112 days notice.

In view of this complexity it will be appreciated that great care must be taken in serving a termination notice to ensure that it is valid.

Dispute resolution

The Board deals with disputes in relation to matters such as refunds of deposit, termination issues, breaches of landlord or tenant obligations arising under the Act or the tenancy agreement, and whether the rent that is sought exceeds the market rent.

The Board's dispute resolution procedure involves mediation or adjudication (which is confidential) in the first instance, and, if that is unsuccessful, a public hearing by the Tenancy Tribunal.

Complaints may be made to the Board by a tenant or a landlord. While any tenant of a qualifying dwelling may apply to the Board, only those landlords of registered tenancies may do so.

Rent and rent review

Normally, rent under a residential tenancy may not be reviewed in the first 12 months of the tenancy, and thereafter not more often than once in every 12 months. However, a review is permitted if there is a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation in the interim. A new rent will not take effect unless 28 days prior notice of it is given by the landlord to the tenant.

A rent review by the Board will set the rent at the open market level, and the Board may not take the financial circumstances of a landlord or a tenant into account when assessing the market rent.

A minimum baseline

The Act imposes certain minimum obligations on landlords and tenants and some of the key obligations are set out below. However, these are minimum obligations only, and the parties to a tenancy may assume further obligations if they wish, so long as no protected interest of a tenant is affected.

Notice Periods under the Act


Duration of Tenancy

Notice Period to be
given by Landlord

Notice Period to be
given by Tenant

Less than 6 months

28 days

28 days

6 or more than 6 months but less than 1 year

35 days

35 days

1 year or more but less than 2 years

42 days

42 days

2 years or more but less than 3 years

56 days

56 days

3 years or more but less than 4 years

84 days

56 days

4 or more years

112 days

56 days

Note that shortened notice periods apply where either party terminates because of specified breach of obligation of the other.

Selected Minimum Obligations of Landlords and Tenants


Landlord

  • To insure the building for at least €250,000, and for public liability.
  • To provide the tenant with landlord's contact details, and those of the landlord's authorised agent.
  • To repair the structure and exterior and the interior and fittings so that same are in the same condition at least as they were at the start of the tenancy (no concession is made for fair wear and tear).
  • Normally, to reimburse a tenant his or her security deposit.
  • To enforce a tenant's obligations (third parties that are adversely affected by a failure may complain to the Board).
  • To allow peaceful and exclusive occupation to the tenant.


Tenant

  • To pay rent and other charges as set out in tenancy agreement.
  • To refrain from assigning or sub-letting without the landlord's consent.
  • To notify the landlord of defects which the landlord is responsible to repair.
  • To refrain from causing any deterioration of the dwelling (normal wear and tear is permitted).
  • To refrain from anti-social behaviour (as defined), and not to permit occupiers or visitors to engage in anti-social behaviour.
  • To keep the landlord informed of persons residing in the property.
  • o refrain from doing anything that will invalidate the landlord's insurance.
  • To refrain from altering or improving the dwelling without the landlord's consent.
  • To refrain from changing the use of the dwelling without the landlord's consent.
  • To notify the landlord of any intention to exercise an accrued right to continue the tenancy.
  • To repair any damage that is attributable to the tenant's act or omission (but excluding fair wear and tear).
  • To allow access to the landlord.
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