Tenants’ Rights Talk

On 29th October Trinity FLAC held a talk on the rights and obligations of tenants given by Gary Byrne of Threshold and Frank Brady of the PRTB.

Gary Byrne was first to speak. He provided a very useful summary of the rights and obligations of tenants in private rented accommodation. He explained a number of key rights including the right to exclusive enjoyment of one’s home, the minimum standards of accommodation a tenant can expect, and the entitlement to a rent book He then spoke about the obligations of tenants including the obligation to pay rent in full and on time, to avoid anti-social behaviour and to keep the property n good order.

Byrne noted that a landlord has the right to review the rent after the first 12 months of a tenancy and that a tenancy cannot be reviewed during the first 12 months unless there has been a substantial change made to the nature of the accommodation. A rent review can only happen if 28 days notice is given in writing. The audience were also informed of procedures for ending a tenancy.

Byrne remarked that issues related to deposit retention accounts for a huge amount of Threshold’s work and welcomed proposals to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to create a deposit protection scheme

Frank Brady began his speech with an explanation of the role of the PRTB. The organisation works to resolve disputes and register tenancies. Interestingly, he expressed concern about the proposed deposit protection scheme. He said that under the current system, most deposits are returned quickly and that the proposed change will slow down deposit returns for everybody as each tenant will have to seek the return of their deposit from a third party.

His speech was very informative and useful to students as he explained common problems students have encountered with landlords in his experience and how these disputes are usually resolved. He explained that in deposit retention cases it is very difficult for an adjudicator to find in favour of the tenant when the landlord, as is often the case, has photographs of the property before and after the tenancy as well as invoices for repairs and cleaners. He suggested that tenants should ask their landlord for an inspection before the tenancy ends. For if the landlord refuses to inspect the property, the tenant’s chances before the PRTB increase.

He cautioned the audience against anti-social behaviour as persistent parties or loud music can be grounds for terminating a tenancy and also warned that if something is wrong with the property it does not entitle the tenant to not pay rent.

Fergal McConnon