If it’s your first time renting, or even your second or third time, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant as well as your obligations:
- Remember that if you sign a contract or lease for a certain amount of time, then you are legally committing yourself to paying rent for that time. So unless you’re completely comfortable and happy with the conditions, don’t sign anything!
- Legally your landlord must give you a rent book or written legal agreement or lease. The rent book keeps a track of all the payments you make throughout the year, i.e. rent/bills and can be extremely useful if problems arise between you and your landlord. Make sure you ask your landlord for a rent book if you’re not being offered one.
- When you move into your new house/apartment, a good tip is to take photos! This way you can’t be blamed for previously stained carpet or broken chair! Also take photos when you’re moving out, this can really help when it comes to looking for your full deposit back.
- Before you hand over any deposit/rent, make sure you check that the house is secure and that locks/windows/smoke alarms etc. are all in working order. Also check if important appliances such as the cooker, washing machine, television etc. are in good working condition.
Rights of Tenants:
- You have the right to privacy. Once you are living in your new home, the landlord is only allowed to enter with your permission. This means that if the landlord wants to do repairs or check the accommodation, they should arrange a suitable time with you.
- Accommodation must be fit to live in. The house should be safe and secure, and rodents of any kind, mice/rats or even ants are totally not acceptable so get on to your landlord as soon as possible if these appear!
- Rent can only be increased once a year (as per new tenancies Act 2004).
- If something in the house/apartment breaks and is not your fault, the landlord is obliged to repair/replace the item and pay for it.
- All of the deposit should be returned to the tenant unless rent is owed or there has been damage to the property.
As with all relationships, it works both ways! The tenant also has obligations to the landlord:
- Respect the landlord and their property. Remember you are only renting the house/apartment, you do not own it!
- Pay the rent at the agreed time and in full.
- Pay any charges, e.g. bin/television license payable by the tenant under the terms of the lease.
- Respect your neighbours. It’s a lot easier and will be more enjoyable in the long term. Although a party at 3am may seem like a good idea at the time, remember your actions do have consequences! Aim to be a law abiding neighbour!
- Allow the landlord to access the property for occasional inspections or if repairs are needed.
- Ask your landlord for permission before making any alterations to the property. Doing simple things like using white tac instead of blue tac or even nails can save a lot of hassle when it comes to moving out and looking for your full deposit back.
- Keep the house clean and tidy and take the rubbish out weekly. Leaving dishes until the morning may seem like a good idea at the time, but the leftover food will attract unwanted guests! Trust me on this, plus friends are more likely to visit if you have a nice smelling house/apartment.
I do advise you to keep a Rent Book. In this book you record all your rent payments, including how much and on what date it was paid. By asking your landlord to sign this each time you hand over money, you can avoid any problems that may arise in the future regarding rent.
If you’re still looking for a place to live, or have any problems with your accommodation throughout the year, call up to the Students’ Union Office. We also have an Accommodation Office in CIT, located near us on the first floor of the Student Centre. Here our accommodation officer, Deirdre Falvey, will be happy to help you with any issues that you might have. The Accommodation Officer is dedicated to providing both options for accommodation and advice on tenancy issues, which include your legal rights and obligations as a tenant and information on the standards of living which you should expect from your accommodation.