The head tenant of our apartment is trying to evict us. What can we do?

Property Clinic: What rights do we have in the absence of any formal agreements for our rental home?

We are renting an apartment from the ‘head tenant’ of the property in question. This tenant does not live with us. I do not believe he has permission to sublet, nor does he have our subtenancy registered with the RTB. The head tenant now wants to replace us as his tenants and move in a family member instead. Do we have any recourse even though we have no formal agreements? Are we entitled to a notice to quit of six months considering we have been living here for several years?

The simple and short answer here is that, yes, you would have the benefit of security of tenure and certain rights in this situation. Setting aside the potential breaches the ‘head tenant’ is committing under the original lease agreement due to subletting to you in the first place, your focus now should be on establishing how and when the ‘tenancy’ was created.

To answer this question, I am going to have to assume that there was a lease agreement drawn up with the landlord which stated the names of the tenants. However, as sometimes happens in houses with a number of bedrooms, a couple of these tenants have been replaced by other individuals, one of whom is yourself. On top of that, since you have already stated you have lived in the property for a number of years, you have without question inherited the original Part 4 Tenancy of the tenant that you replaced.

Alternatively, if you have not gained these rights for some technical reason that I am not aware of, you have then created your own Part 4 Tenancy rights as you have been in the property for more than six months. Therefore, if your tenancy is to be ended by the relevant party, from the information you have provided, you must be given 180 days’ notice.


That said, this head tenant does not own the property, therefore you have a further protection of your Part 4 Tenancy and that is a landlord cannot end a tenancy except for particular reasons. Setting aside the obvious ones such as you do not pay your rent or are in breach of any other obligations of the lease a landlord cannot end a tenancy unless they need the property for themselves or family use, would like to sell the property or want to carry out a significant refurbishment of the property.

In summary, this so-called head tenant cannot simply kick you out because you have gained legal rights due to residing in the property for six months or more. Finally, what I would advise in these unusual circumstances is to try to get the landlord’s contact details and send a friendly email or letter to them, setting out what is going on and outlining your security of tenure.

For all you know the landlord may be blissfully unaware of what is going on in their property and be happy that you have contacted them to notify them that the original tenants are in breach of their lease-agreement obligations.

Marcus O’ Connor is a chartered surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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