Property Clinic

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

Leaks emanating from showers and baths are one of the most common problems with modern housing today. Photograph: Thinkstock

Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 00:00

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