I have been renting a two-bed apartment with my girlfriend for the past six years. The landlord is decent enough and he has put the rent up only once in that time, but he now says that he wants the apartment back so that his son can move in. Do I have any rights at all to stay on? He has given me three months' notice to leave.
It sounds like your landlord has been very generous increasing your rent only once during the course of your tenancy. As you are in the property six years you are on what is called a “Further Part 4 Tenancy”. The “First Part 4 Tenancy” was for the first four years of your occupation of the apartment. When that ended, a second and Further Part 4 Tenancy kicked in.
This happens automatically under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the amendment of this Act that took place in 2015 and 2016. In fact, the amendment Act of 2016 extends Part 4 Tenancies to a six-year period if the tenancy was created after December 24th, 2016.
In your case, since the First and Further Part 4 Tenancy were in place before that date we will deal with that situation. Also, I am going to assume that no new lease agreement of a fixed term was signed up to in the past 12 months and take it that although you probably did sign a lease initially for 12 months you did not sign up to any further agreement since then and everything just ran year to year.
Based on that assumption, the landlord is allowed under section 34 to take back the property if he or a family member wants to use and occupy the apartment. The manner on how this is done was very much tightened up by the government in the amendment Acts of 2015 and 2016 as it was felt that some landlords were abusing this.
By "tightening up", a landlord now has to provide a statutory declaration that they have to sign in front of their solicitor, which is then sent out to the tenant along with a cover letter and the termination of tenancy notice too. This is of course to protect your security of tenure and when this process is followed correctly and the landlord genuinely does need the property for his son (possibly the son is coming back to Ireland, got a job in Dublin or is going to a college nearby the apartment), then as a tenant you should accept that and move out.
In saying that, the landlord has fallen short on one very important aspect of his notice: by giving you 90 days. The landlord should have in fact given you 168 days’ notice. To be frank, this is a major error by the landlord and renders the entire notice “invalid” as it goes beyond even a “slippage” in regard to an error in a notice like this which is allowed. The slippage rule allows a landlord to make mistakes (possibly a misspelling of the tenant name) but not a statutory obligation that affects a tenant’s rights and security of tenure.
I would recommend contacting the landlord and informing him of his error. Ask him to issue a fresh notice giving you more time to secure alternative accommodation bearing in mind the current property market. Under law, you also have a right to lodge a case to the Residential Tenancies Board on an “invalid notice” and have your case heard but again if the landlord was decent to you then it might be best to return the favour and just get in touch with the landlord asking him to rectify the notice as described above.
Marcus O’Connor is a chartered surveyor estate agent and property manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. scsi.ie