Students urged to choose landlords carefully

 

THE PRIVATE Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) has urged students, particularly those who will be renting for the first time, to choose their landlords and potential flatmates carefully.

First-time renters may not take the time to properly check out that their landlord is experienced and professional, it said.

Students are warned to choose flatmates carefully, since in some circumstances each tenant may be held jointly responsible for unpaid rent or damage to property caused by other tenants.

Tenants are legally obliged to pay their rent, and, if they or their flatmates fall into arrears, they could face prosecution.

Students should also consider whether a 12-month lease suits their needs or whether they only need the property for the academic year, as breaking a lease may incur penalties.

Students are advised to know their rights on deposits. This is the single biggest area of dispute referred to the PRTB each year.

There are three circumstances in which a security deposit may be retained: if rent is owed, if damage beyond normal wear and tear has been done to the property or if utility bills are outstanding.

Students should prepare a detailed inventory of contents of the rented property and the condition of each item before they move in. Photographic evidence can be helpful if there is a dispute later.

The board advises students to visit prtb.ieand familiarise themselves with rights and responsibilities before they sign a private rental agreement. Students are also reminded to get receipts for all rent payments and to have an agreed inventory of the contents and condition of premises they want to rent in case of problems.

Separately, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched its Rent Book and Accommodation Guide 2012 yesterday. Designed to help students searching for accommodation, it provides accessible details on rights and obligations as tenants and includes tips on all aspects of renting. With the cost of attending college rising yearly, the rent book also aims to help students manage accommodation budgets effectively.

NUIG students’ union president Paul Curley noted second- and third-year students would begin term in two weeks, while first years had received their CAO offers earlier this week. “Choosing the correct accommodation is one of the most important decisions students will make,” he said. “We urge students to think carefully and not to rush into anything too quickly.”

Cork Lord Mayor Cllr John Buttimer said he was disappointed the USI had not emphasised responsibilities students bore towards areas where they chose to live.

“Over many years, the issue of antisocial behaviour by a small but significant minority of students living on a short-term basis in residential areas has caused huge distress and problems for local communities,” he said. “I know of instances where local residents have been put through hell because of absentee landlords, out-of-control students and a lack of legislation to allow gardaí deal effectively with issues.”

He said he would ask the UCC and CIT students’ unions to inform all students of their responsibilities to local communities.