Long-term tenants, bathroom leaks and worries about losing a rental deposit
Leaks emanating from showers and baths are one of the most common problems with modern housing today. Photograph: Thinkstock
Q I have a house in a remote part of the country. The house is not in great condition. I have had the same tenant for more than seven years. I’m happy to leave him in the house as he pays his rent and doesn’t make demands. If he leaves I will have to spend a considerable amount of money to bring the house up to a reasonable standard as it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get another tenant for it in its current condition. My question is does the tenant acquire any rights to the house if he stays there for many years. Are there any dangers in leaving a tenant in a house long term? I would be very grateful for your advice on this matter.
A I assume that you have registered the tenancy with the Private Rented Tenancies Board (PRTB) as required; under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, landlords have the right to set the rent, once a year, according to the current market rent.
Your tenant will not have any additional rights to the property as long as they are paying rent to you. I assume that you don’t have a fixed-term tenancy agreement and have a “Part 4 Tenancy”. Such an arrangement runs in a four-year cycle and a property owner can terminate the lease for any of the following reasons: the tenant does not comply with the obligations of the tenancy; the dwelling is no longer suited to the occupant’s accommodation needs; if the landlord needs the property for him/herself or for an immediate family member; if the landlord intends to sell the property; or if the landlord intends to refurbish the property.
If you wish to terminate the tenancy, the necessary notice period must be given in writing, stating the date and reason of termination, and also that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the PRTB within 28 days from receipt of the notice and must be signed by the landlord or agent on their behalf. For a tenancy in excess of four years, you must give your tenant 112 days notice of termination of the tenancy.
With regard to the condition and state of repair of the property, you as landlord have obligations under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 to keep the property in a reasonable state of repair and must meet minimum standards, such as: the building must be free from damp, in good structural repair, and be adequately heated and ventilated; hot and cold water must be available; and all appliances, electrical wiring, gas and water pipes must be in good working order. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing these standards and carry out regular inspections of rented accommodation.
The PRTB website has an interesting guide entitled, Being a Good Landlord , available for download on prtb.ie
John O’Sullivan is a chartered surveyor and estate agent and sits on the Residential Agency Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland scsi.ie
Q About seven years ago I had an extension built which included a new en suite with shower. During the building work, I had an existing shower tray removed and a new one installed. Over the last two years or so, I have noticed mould growing on the ceiling (in our sitting room) below the replaced shower tray. In the newer shower, water drips down through the ceiling whenever the shower is in use. It appears the problem is due to a leak in the water outlet. These now need to be fixed and I wonder if I have a case in going back to the builder (assuming he is still in business) to have the leaks rectified without paying for remedial works, as they are now not fit for purpose, or will I have to pay another plumber and possibly a plasterer to carry out remedial works?
A Leaks emanating from showers and baths are one of the most common problems with modern housing today. This is most commonly due to poorly sealed junctions at shower tray and bath/wall junctions but can also be due to poorly formed connections on the waste outlets. Competent builders will normally give considerable care and attention to the actual detailing of the junctions and the workmanship in putting these together, in order to minimise the risk of leaks arising at a later stage.
Clearly when you pay for a job, you expect that the job will be done properly. Accordingly, and in normal circumstances in the event of a problem arising, the builder has a liability and is obliged to come back and not only rectify the problem but to make good any consequential damage to include repairing the ceiling below and redecorating any affected areas.
The job was done seven years ago and the problem has been going on for about two years; this throws up two potential problems. Firstly, the fact that it took five years for a problem to develop might suggest that the leak is actually a maintenance issue rather than a shortcoming in the original workmanship; a problem with poor workmanship should show itself most likely within the first two years. Secondly, the problem and extent of damage will have deteriorated over the last two years, and assuming that the builder is liable for the defect in the first instance, you could have difficulty holding him responsible for the consequential damage as a result of not taking this up with him earlier. It’s now more than six years since the job was done and you could have missed the opportunity to take a legal action against the builder.
You need to establish whether the problem is due to faulty workmanship or lack of maintenance on your behalf and a Chartered Building Surveyor will be able to assist you in this regard. If the problem is due to faulty workmanship, then you have nothing to lose by contacting the builder and inviting him to view the situation. Whereas you may not have a legal remedy, there are reputable builders out there who have pride in their work and if it is due to a fault of theirs, they may be prepared to assist you in resolving the problem.
Val O’Brien sits on the Building Surveying Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland scsi.ie
Q I am considering renting an apartment in Dublin with my partner. He is currently unemployed and is in receipt of social welfare and as such he cannot afford to contribute to the payment of the deposit. I have volunteered to pay the deposit in its entirety, however I am concerned that I will lose my deposit if the relationship breaks down. Is there anything that can be done to allay my fears?
A The best thing you can do to alleviate any concern you may have is to honour the terms of the lease agreement between the landlord, yourself and your partner.
That is to say that the rent is paid on time and that the property is kept in good condition for the duration of the lease. The landlord may legitimately retain part or all of your deposit if at the end of the tenancy there is rent due or if there is unreasonable wear and tear to the property. In the event of non-payment of your rent, the landlord will seek the rent from you or your partner, jointly or separately. If your partner does not have the means to pay the rent the landlord will correctly seek the full money due from you. It is highly likely that the landlord will expect one joint payment periodically and would not accept part payment each month.
The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was established to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants and for the registration of tenancies in the Republic of Ireland.
Your tenancy will be registered with the PRTB by the landlord. If at the end of your tenancy you do not agree with the landlord retaining your deposit you may revert to the PRTB with your complaint. You may submit a complaint online or in writing to their offices.
The PRTB will adjudicate on a case pertaining to deposits. Perhaps you should identify your financial exposure for the full rent in the event of the relationship failing so as to ensure that you are in a position to absorb the costs in such case where your partner does not contribute the rent. A simple monthly budget plan will clarify your income and outgoings to assist you in identifying any risk you may have.
Paul Huberman is a member of the Property and Facilities Management Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland scsi.ie