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The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Advice -

QI am pay­ing top dol­lar to rent a house in the city cen­tre, but it turns out that the land­lady is stor­ing stuff in the at­tic of this house. She did not tell me this be­fore I moved in, but I get the im­pres­sion that if I had ob­jected she would have quickly let the house to some­one else. There is not a lot of stor­age any­where else in the house and I wouldn’t mind hav­ing an at­tic for stor­age, but what’s more se­ri­ous is that the land­lady lets her­self into the house on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis to put stuff in the at­tic or re­move it. Can she do this? I don’t like the idea of her roam­ing around the house when I am not there.

AThe sit­u­a­tion you de­scribe is some­what un­usual. You should re­vert straight back to the lease agree­ment you signed up to at the be­gin­ning of your ten­ancy. Go to the “Def­i­ni­tions and In­ter­pre­ta­tions” sec­tion of this doc­u­ment and look for the “Prop­erty” head­ing. It is gen­er­ally at the very start of a lease agree­ment.

This should clearly out­line and de­scribe what is the “Prop­erty” and sets out ar­eas in­side and out­side the prop­erty that the ten­ant has (or has not) use of. In some cases, it will re­fer to the at­tic. Maybe she has cov­ered the fact that the use of the at­tic is not part of the prop­erty which you rent, al­though that would be very un­usual. If it is not clear from the Def­i­ni­tions and In­ter­pre­ta­tions sec­tion then the at­tic ques­tion may be cov­ered in a spe­cial con­di­tions sec­tion in the agree­ment. If it is not, then I would sug­gest you sim­ply ap­proach the land­lady and make a re­quest to use the at­tic and ask her to re­move her items. This would be a fair and rea­son­able re­quest and should not be met with too much re­sis­tance. In say­ing that, she may re­spond by say­ing she has no other stor­age fa­cil­ity and is not pre­pared to go to the added ex­pense of pay­ing for stor­age which will eat into her rental in­come on which she al­ready pays high tax. Open and hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the best ap­proach on this mat­ter.

In re­gard to the land­lady en­ter­ing the house, it is not clear from your ques­tion whether or not you have given her per­mis­sion? I am go­ing to as­sume you have not given her per­mis­sion to en­ter the prop­erty in your ab­sence or oth­er­wise.

The sim­ple an­swer is no, a land­lord may not en­ter the prop­erty while you are not there if you have not given per­mis­sion to do so. This is a ma­jor breach of a land­lord’s obli­ga­tion to of­fer you quiet and peace­ful en­joy­ment of the prop­erty.

In your lease there will be pro­vi­sions where, with fair and rea­son­able no­tice, (typ­i­cally 2-3 days’ no­tice) the land­lord may en­ter the prop­erty but they must con­tact you to get per­mis­sion to do so. Write a firm but friendly email to your land­lady ask­ing her to con­tact you be­fore en­ter­ing the prop­erty. How­ever, in cases of emer­gency the land­lord and/or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can ac­cess the prop­erty with­out giv­ing you no­tice. This might be in sit­u­a­tions such as a sus­pected fire or gas leak but not limited to these. Mar­cus O’Con­nor is a char­tered sur­veyor and prop­erty man­ager and mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors Ire­land

QI’ve been liv­ing in a rental prop­erty for more than 7½ years. Dur­ing this time there have never been any is­sues and I’ve had a good re­la­tion­ship with the let­ting agent who man­ages the prop­erty. I’m com­ing to the end of my sec­ond Part 4 ten­ancy agree­ment this sum­mer, but would like to stay on in the prop­erty. My rent was in­creased at the end of 2017, but I’m con­scious that it is still sig­nif­i­cantly be­low the current mar­ket rate. Can my land­lord – who I know will not be mov­ing in, nor are there any plans for ren­o­va­tion or sale – give me no­tice to pre­vent me start­ing a third Part 4 ten­ancy agree­ment? I’ve had conflicting ad­vice on my le­gal po­si­tion.

ASe­cu­rity of ten­ure for tenants is pro­vided for in Part 4 of the Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Act 2004 as amended. When a ten­ant has been in oc­cu­pa­tion of a dwelling for six months they are then en­ti­tled to re­main for a fur­ther 3½ years where the ten­ancy be­gan be­fore De­cem­ber 24th, 2016, or a fur­ther 5½ years where the ten­ancy be­gan on or after De­cem­ber 24th, 2016, ir­re­spec­tive of whether a fixed-term lease agree­ment is in place. The ini­tial four- or six-year ten­ancy cy­cle, de­pend­ing on when your ten­ancy com­menced, is known as a Part 4 ten­ancy. When this ini­tial ten­ancy cy­cle ends and your oc­cu­pa­tion con­tin­ues you en­ter in to a Fur­ther Part 4 ten­ancy.

Once the ten­ancy be­comes a Part 4 or Fur­ther Part 4 ten­ancy there are only cer­tain grounds the land­lord can rely on to ter­mi­nate the ten­ancy. The grounds re­ferred to are: 1. The ten­ant has breached their obli­ga­tions. 2. The prop­erty is no longer suited to the ten­ant’s needs.

Send your queries to prop­er­tyques­tions@irish­times.com

or to Prop­erty Clinic, The Ir­ish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This col­umn is a read­ers’ ser­vice. The content of the Prop­erty Clinic is pro­vided for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion only. It is not in­tended as ad­vice on which read­ers should rely. Pro­fes­sional or spe­cial­ist ad­vice should be ob­tained be­fore per­sons take or re­frain from any ac­tion on the ba­sis of the content. The Ir­ish Times and its con­trib­u­tors will not be li­able for any loss or dam­age aris­ing from reliance on any content. 3. The land­lord re­quires the prop­erty for per­sonal or fam­ily use. 4. The land­lord wants to sell the prop­erty. 5. Sig­nif­i­cant re­fur­bish­ment of the prop­erty is to take place. 6. The use of the prop­erty is chang­ing.

It is how­ever im­por­tant for tenants to note that there is a pro­vi­sion per­mit­ting a land­lord to serve a no­tice ter­mi­nat­ing the ten­ancy be­fore a Fur­ther Part 4 ten­ancy cy­cle com­mences with­out hav­ing to rely on one of the above grounds, al­though a rea­son for the ter­mi­na­tion must be pro­vided.

The rea­son cited in the sam­ple No­tice of Ter­mi­na­tion is “that the land­lord is en­ti­tled to ter­mi­nate the ten­ancy be­fore a fur­ther Part 4 ten­ancy cy­cle com­mences”. The no­tice must be in ac­cor­dance with the law which is quite pre­scrip­tive, for in­stance, the no­tice pe­riod must ex­pire on or after the end of the Part 4 ten­ancy.

The amount of no­tice needed to end a ten­ancy de­pends gen­er­ally on how long a ten­ant has lived in the prop­erty. It can range from 28 days if the ten­ant is in oc­cu­pa­tion for six months, to up to 224 days if the oc­cu­pa­tion is for more than eight years. The RTB would rec­om­mend both land­lords and tenants re­view our sam­ple noti c es on our web­site: on­estop­shop.rtb.ie/ending-a-ten­ancy/

Tenants should note that if their ten­ancy is lo­cated in a Rent Pres­sure Zone (RPZ), rents can only rise by up to 4 per cent an­nu­ally. If tenants va­cate and new tenants move in, the same re­stric­tions ap­ply on a land­lord when set­ting the new rent. Out­side of an RPZ a land­lord can only re­view the rent once in any 24-month pe­riod and land­lords can­not set a rent that is in ex­cess of mar­ket rent.

The Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Board (RTB) en­cour­ages di­a­logue be­tween land­lords and tenants around any con­cerns that may arise dur­ing a ten­ancy to see if an agree­ment can be reached to en­able the ten­ancy to con­tinue.

Where an is­sue can­not be re­solved the RTB pro­vides a free me­di­a­tion ser­vice where a trained me­di­a­tor fa­cil­i­tates both sides in com­ing to an agree­ment. There is also the op­tion of an ad­ju­di­ca­tion hear­ing; this is a for­mal and con­fi­den­tial process whereby an ap­pointed ad­ju­di­ca­tor makes a de­ci­sion, based on ev­i­dence pre­sented by both par­ties, the fee for an ad­ju­di­ca­tion hear­ing is ¤15.

De­ter­mi­na­tions from both me­di­a­tion and ad­ju­di­ca­tion are ap­peal­able to a ten­ancy tri­bunal.

‘‘ A land­lord may not en­ter the prop­erty while you are not there if you have not given per­mis­sion to do so

Janette Fog­a­rty, head of dis­pute res­o­lu­tion ser­vices, Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Board (RTB.ie)

In cases of emer­gency the land­lord and/or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can ac­cess the prop­erty with­out giv­ing you no­tice. This might be in sit­u­a­tions such as a sus­pected fire or gas leak but not lim­ited to th­ese.

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