PRTB Reminds Students To Choose their Landlords and Flatmates Carefully!

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB)  to-day (21/8/2012) reminded Students, particularly those who will be renting for first time,  that they should choose their landlord and potential flatmates carefully. First time renters can sometimes get caught up in the excitement of living away from home for the first time, enjoying their newfound independence and  may not take  the time to properly check out that their landlord is an experienced professional landlord or that they shared some common ground with their new flatmates. Renting a property is a business arrangement which must be taken very seriously. Students are warned to choose flat mates carefully, since in certain circumstances each individual 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 and do not repay them, they could end up facing prosecution. Students should also consider whether a twelve month lease suits their needs, if they only need the property for the academic year, since breaking a lease may incur penalties.

Students are also advised to know their rights in relation to Deposits. This is the single biggest area of Dispute referred to the PRTB each year. There are only 3 circumstances in which a Security Deposit may be retained i.e. if rent is owing, if damage beyond normal wear and tear has been done to the property or it utility bills are outstanding. Students should prepare a detailed inventory of all the contents of the rented property and the condition of each item, before they move in. Photos can be helpful if there is a Dispute later.

Students should log onto their website www.prtb.ie and familiarise themselves with their rights – and their responsibilities – before they sign up to a rental agreement or verbally agree to rent properties in the private rented sector.

On the positive side, rents have decreased over the past years and the standard of accommodation which students can expect are higher than ever before. The new standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009. These regulations specify requirements in relation to a range of matters such as structural repair, absence of damp, separate bathroom facilities, heating, ventilation, light and safety of gas and electrical supply. For example, kitchen facilities must include a four ring hob with grill and oven, a fridge and freezer, microwave and washing machine.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board maintains a register of all private tenancies and landlords are legally obliged to register the tenancy with the Board, which maintains a public register on its website. The Board has replaced the Courts for the vast majority of landlord and tenant disputes and cases can be referred for a €25 fee. However, College owned accommodation does not come within the PRTB remit. Deposit Retention is the main source of dispute between Landlords and Tenant, comprising 39% of applications received in 2011. Deposits may only be retained in limited circumstances, where rent or utility bills are outstanding or where damage beyond normal wear and tear has been caused by the tenants.  Therefore it is important the students point out to Landlords at the beginning of the term any damage or defect they see and that this is reported. Rent Arrears is the main issue referred to the PRTB by Landlords, accounting for 32% respectively of applications received in 2011. Non payment of rent is a serious matter, which could result in a conviction, so any students who find themselves behind in rent should not ignore the problem but make arrangements with their landlord to pay off arrears as quickly as possible.

Students are reminded that renting is a business arrangement. They should have receipts for all rent payments made and should have an agreed inventory of the contents and condition of premises they propose to rent in case of problems at the end of the arrangement. For further information www.prtb.ie

 

 

Check List for Students Renting for the First Time

Is the rental property close to college or on a convenient transport route? Is the property secure and in a safe location?

What is included in the rent – and what is excluded? Who pays for the heating, electricity, bin charges, TV cable? You must consider any extras in your budget.

Does the Kitchen met with the minimum legal requirements? Is there a four ring hob with grill and oven, a fridge and freezer, microwave and washing machine. Do they all work?

Sanitary facilities; is there a self contained toilet with hot and cold water and a fixed bath or shower?

Is the heating adequate? Is there any sign of dampness in the property? Are there smoke alarms?

Know who you’re living with because if they don’t pay their rent, leave unpaid bills or damage the property you could all be held jointly responsible.

Don’t sign a 12 month lease if you’re only staying for the 9 month academic year…you could end up paying the extra or losing your Deposit.

Is the tenancy registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board. Experience shows that good landlords will always abide by the law.

What is your landlord’s name, address and phone number? It’s very important to have this information if things go wrong – and you are entitled to get it…

Take an inventory of the contents and furniture on arrival, note any damage, things that don’t work & breakages. Photos are also useful. Get your landlord to sign the inventory along with you.

Get a receipt! Make sure you have a record  (i) of your Deposit and (ii) of every Rent Payment. Renting is a business arrangement – treat it like one.

Don’t engage in anti-social behaviour… parties can get out of hand and it could end up costing you a lot of money. .

If you’ve paid your rent, given notice, haven’t damaged the property, and paid the bills then you’re entitled to your deposit back….. just remember to go through your inventory again before you leave, preferably with your landlord, and take more photos. They may be necessary as evidence in a Dispute.

Renting Problem?  Who can help?

The Student Union Accommodation Officers have been trained by the PRTB

Threshold offers free advice to tenants

The Money and Budgeting Advice Service provides money advice

Private Residential Tenancies Board – You can take a case to the PRTB for €25

Need more information on your Rights and Responsiblities? www.prtb.ie

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 confers rights and responsibilities for both Landlords and Tenants as illustrated below. Full Details on www.prtb.ie

 

 

Landlord Rights:

  • Receive the rent on the due date
  • Issue a notice of termination without a reason within the first six months of the tenancy
  • Be informed of who is living in the property
  • Decide whether to allow sub-letting by the tenant
  • Be informed of any repairs needed and be granted reasonable access to fix them
  • Refer a dispute to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) if the tenancy is registered
  • Review the rent once a year, in line with current market rent, and on serving 28 days written notice.

 

 

Landlord Responsibilities:

  • Register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB)
  • Provide a rent book (if no written lease is in place) and receipt of payments
  • Ensure the property is in good condition and undertake all  necessary repairs
  • Insure the property
  • Provide tenant with details and contact information of any agent who deals on their behalf
  • Provide the tenant with the landlord’s contact details if not dealing with an agent
  • Give tenants 28 days’ written notice of a rent review
  • Give the tenant a written notice of termination of tenancy
  • Refund deposits promptly unless there are rent arrears, utility bills outstanding or damage beyond wear and tear.
  • Give tenants notice of any impending inspections of the property
  • Pay any charges related to the property e.g. taxes and duties.

 

Tenant Rights:

  • Be provided with a dwelling in good condition and in accordance with Minimum Standards
  • Be entitled to peaceful occupation – landlords can only enter with permission unless it is an emergency
  • Be provided with a rent book, written contract or lease
  • Be given 28 days’ written notice of a rent increase
  • Be provided with full contact details of the Landlord and or agent
  • Be given a prompt refund of their deposit unless there are rent arrears, utility bills outstanding or damage beyond wear and tear.
  • Be given proper notice of termination of the tenancy
  • Refer disputes to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

 

Tenant Responsibilities:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Maintain the property in good order
  • Inform the landlord when repairs are needed
  • Not to engage in any activities that may harm other parties or the property
  • Allow the landlord access to do routine inspections /repairs
  • Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
  • Give the landlord written notice of termination of the tenancy
  • Keep a record of all payments and dealings with the landlord
  • Not to do anything that could affect the landlord’s insurance premium on the dwelling.

 

 

 

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