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
Note to the Editor
The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) has three main functions
- The maintenance of a register of tenancies in the private rental sector
- The provision of a Dispute Resolution Service in the event of landlord / tenant disputes. We have replaced the Court for the vast majority of such Disputes.
- Carrying out Research and providing Policy Advice to the Minister in relation to the Private Rental Sector