Tenant protection laws are significant but not onerous

June 06, 2006

Ireland typical irish doorsIreland has strong tenant protection laws. The parties are free to negotiate rents, but the amount must not exceed the open market rate. The rent may be reviewed and can only be adjusted once a year. Rent disputes go to the Private Residential Tenancy Board (PRTB). Security of tenure is effective for four years; during the first six months, the landlord can terminate the leasing contract without specifying grounds but once a tenancy has lasted six months, the landlord can only terminate the tenancy for the next 3 ? years citing just causes. Irish law is pro-tenant.

Rents: Can landlord and tenant freely agree rents in Ireland?

The parties to the contract are free to agree rents, however rents may not be charged above the market rent. Rent may be reviewed (upward or downward) once a year only.

Tenants are to be given 28 days notice of any new rents. A tenants? right to request a rent review annually cannot be contracted out of. Disputes about rents go to The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

Deposits

There are no maximum deposits.

What rights do landlords and tenants have in Ireland, especially as to duration of contract, and eviction?

Security of tenure is based on a curious system of 4-year cycles. During the first six months, the landlord can terminate without specifying grounds. But once a tenancy has lasted 6 months, the landlord can terminate the tenancy during the following 3 ? years only if:

  • The tenant does not comply with the obligations of the tenancy
  • The dwelling is overcrowded
  • The landlord needs the dwelling in the next 3 months
  • The landlord requires the dwelling for his own occupation or for a family member
  • The landlord intends to refurbish
  • The landlord intends to change the business use of the dwelling

At the end of the 4 years, a new tenancy will commence and the cycle begins again unless otherwise agreed upon, i.e., the landlord can give notice without stating a reason within the first six months.

Tenants may give notice at any time without giving a reason, subject to any fixed term lease or agreement contained in the contract; the periods of notice are indicated below.

Regardless of why the termination is occurring, the periods of notice to be given by the landlord and tenant depend on the length of the tenancy, as follows:

Notice Period for Termination

Duration of Tenancy Landlord Tenant
Less than 6 months 28 days 28 days
6 months - 1 year 35 days 35 days
1 - 2 years 42 days 42 days
2 - 3 years 56 days 56 days
3 - 4 years 84 days 84 days
More than 4 years 112 days 112 days
Source: Global Property Guide

The Act allows leases to provide greater security of tenure for tenants, and allows leases to specify longer notice periods.

Landlords have to register details of their tenancies within a month with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), with registration fees of ?70 per unit.

Despite anything to the contrary in a lease or tenancy, where a landlord withholds consent to assignment or sub-letting, the tenant may terminate the tenancy. Leases for more than one year (now rare) must be in writing.

EVICTION FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT

Duration until completion of service of process 11
Duration of trial 50
Duration of enforcement 60
Total Days to Evict Tenant 121
Courts: The Lex Mundi Project

How effective is the Irish legal system?

It is generally accepted that landlord and tenant law is one of the most complex and involved fields of Irish law. The new PRTB hearings attempt to resolve this. The fees are not expensive. Legal representation should not be necessary. Costs will not be awarded except in exceptional circumstances. The dispute resolution process operates informally. But enforcement of the orders of Board not complied with, will be through the Court.

The following table indicates the pre-Board situation:

Legislation:

Recent changes in Irish landlord and tenant law Irish landlord and tenant law comprises a mix of the common law (judge-made law), and statute law, including (distantly) the Landlord and Tenant Law Amendment Act, Ireland, 1960; the Conveyancing Act, 1882; and more recently, the Rent Restrictions Act, 1960 and 1967; the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Acts 1982-1983; and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992. But undoubtedly the most important legislation is The Private Residential Tenancies Act, 2004.

Brief history

During World War 1, the British Parliament passed measures of rent control and security of tenure. These persisted into the post war period, and eventually became the Rent Restrictions Act 1960, an extremely complex set of restrictions.

The restrictions survived until the early 1980s, when they were the subject of a constitutional challenge. In Blake v Attorney General (1981) the Supreme Court ruled that Parts 11 and Parts 1V of the Rent restrictions Act 1960-1967 were unconstitutional in that they amounted to an ?unjust attack? on landlords? property rights. The legislation, the Supreme Court complained, provided no compensation for landlords subject to rent control, and almost permanently alienated the property from the landlord. Following Blake, more moderate legislation was passed, designed to phase out the formerly rent-controlled sector by 2002 (the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Acts of 1982-1983). The net result was that tenants became largely unprotected from eviction, and the rent market was free.

Ireland Dublin houses for saleThis brought a reaction. Following campaigns by Threshold, a housing NGO, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 was passed which provided new rights: more notice-to-quit, minimum standards of accommodation, and the right to a rent book, plus a system of registration. It also abolished the old common law right of the landlord to seize his tenants? property in lieu of rent (distress). However the Act did not address security of tenure, and there was another Threshold campaign, which resulted in the present, more anti-landlord Act.