Does my tenant have to notify me of their plans before one-year lease expires?
There is still some confusion in relation to leases and the 2004 Tenancies Act
You can only give a tenant notice on one of six grounds, the most important being if you or a family member want to live in it or you want to sell it. Photograph: iStock
The first one-year lease on the property I’m letting expires in mid-August and I haven’t received any notification from the tenant to say she wants to leave, stay for another year or let me know if she needs to stay a bit longer because of Covid-19. I will be happy whichever she chooses but she is very difficult to deal with, hence my not just asking her what her plans are.
I am a responsible and conscientious landlord and I want to protect my rights while respecting the tenant’s rights. Is she obliged to notify me in advance if she intends to leave? Or if she intends to stay? If she just stays on, paying the rent but without a new lease, does this affect my legal rights?
There is still some confusion in relation to leases with regards to the 2004 Tenancies Act. When any tenant is in a property for just over six months they are automatically on a Part 4 lease, which is now a six-year lease. So, when your tenant is actually into six months of their one-year fixed term lease then she will automatically go into a Part 4 lease.
My understanding is that she does not have to give you notice when the fixed term expires and she can return the keys on the final day of that agreement. However, if she does not do that then she has to give you notice as per the 2004 Tenancies Act, which will vary according to the length of time she is in the property, ie the longer the term the longer notice she has to give.
Please also understand that when the fixed term expires the same legal obligations from both the landlord and the tenant flow as per the 2004 Tenancies Act. You can only give her notice on one of six grounds, the most important being if you or a family member want to live in it or you want to sell it and you have to give statutory notices in this regard. If that isn’t complicated enough, then because of the emergency Covid-19 legislation you cannot give any notice on any grounds at the moment.
So, as you can see it’s not easy but it’s not a minefield either. In my opinion, the last two administrations have definitely watered down landlord’s rights; some for very good legal reasons and some for very bad political reasons.
For now, I would just go with the flow. You say she is difficult to deal with, but she appears to be paying her rent and looking after the property. To be frank, they are the important points; it’s not about personalities.
Kersten Mehl is a chartered residential agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie.