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5 legal tips renters should know

22 May 2017

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The rental sector in Ireland is something of a touchy subject at the minute. There have been tetchy

Dáil debates and a never-ending supply of opinion pieces in print and online about how to solve the crisis.

But if you are a tenant who wants to end your lease, are you stuck there until the lease ends or do you have any options?

Maybe you can’t afford the rent anymore or maybe the house of your dreams has just come on the market and you want to make an offer on it. If that is the case, a mortgage meeting with EBS could definitely help.

Either way, there are options open to you and you are never ‘stuck’ in a lease.

It’s a tricky scenario. But if you really can’t stand renting anymore, there are certain tips you should follow when you are ending your lease to make it as hassle-free as possible.

1. Just ask the landlord

While there are laws in place governing the appropriate notice period for breaking a lease, it can also be broken by ‘mutual agreement’.

So if you are in a position where you want or need to break the lease, inform the landlord and ask if they would agree to let you leave the property on an agreed date. Happy days if they agree.

If not, there are still some more options you can try.

2. Give the right amount of notice

The amount of notice you’ll need to give will depend on how long you’ve been in your rental property.

The full list of notice periods is available here but it ranges from 28 days if you’ve been renting for less than six months all the way up to 112 days if the tenancy has lasted more than eight years.

You also have to make sure to actually write a letter of notice; texts or emails are not valid.

The only time the notice period can be shorter than the above limits is if the landlord’s behaviour poses a threat of injury to you or danger to the dwelling.

In that case a notice period of a week is enough.

3. Offer to sublet the property

If you want to leave a fixed-term lease before it’s up, you’ll need to offer to sublet or assign the property. Subletting is where you move out and let the property to a sub-tenant. You effectively become their landlord while still paying the actual landlord.

Assignment is where you find somebody else to replace you. They begin a new tenancy and you no longer have any responsibilities to the landlord.

If you offer to sublet or assign the property (it’s advisable to do this in writing) and the landlord refuses, you can terminate the lease. You will still have to give the appropriate notice – but if there is a long time left on your lease it could be an avenue worth pursuing.

4. Keep an eye on your deposit

Breaking a lease doesn’t mean you automatically wave goodbye to your deposit. The landlord is only entitled to keep the deposit for rent or bills for the time you lived there and for any damage to the property above the normal wear and tear.

They are also entitled to any costs they incur for advertising (but if they are using the most common site in the country, the cost will only be between €45 and €175).

Technically they are also entitled to any rent they lose out on, but in the current climate they can hardly argue the case for a shortage of viable tenants.

5. Check if the lease contains a break clause

Most of us sign leases without checking the fine print. But in many cases, a lease contains a break clause. Many one-year leases contain a six-month break clause.

This means that the tenant can leave the property after six months if they want to (again provided the appropriate notice is given – which, in this case, would be 28 days.

6. Know your rights

When you are leaving the property take pictures of absolutely everything you can. These can prove invaluable if the landlord claims any items were damaged. If you had the foresight to take pictures of the condition of the property at the start of the lease then all the better.

If you’ve tried all of the above but still can’t get any satisfaction, you can take a case to the Residential Tenancies Board. This is a State body with a comprehensive dispute resolution arm which can help you assert your rights under the law when it comes to a rental property.

Thinking of escaping the rental sector?

If you are ready to make all your hard work pay off, call in for a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting with our team of experts. We’ll help you get everything in order before the big move.

There are more tips in our First Time Buyer guide.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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