Before you sign a lease

Before you sign a lease

Before you sign a lease

Great rentals start well before the lease is finalised. A few simple steps can make all the difference in a rental experience.

The best way to avoid a stressful dispute is to ensure the agreement is clearly laid out and understood by both parties before you sign on the dotted line. Clear understanding of the agreement and the responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant brings peace and helps to avoid confusion from unexpressed expectations.

This page has all the information you need to know about the steps to take before signing a lease,  how to handle security deposits and what to check before returning them.

6 Steps to Begin a Tenancy:

We’ve put together a 6 step guide to beginning a tenancy. Following these simple steps will help ensure both landlords and tenants have a positive experience.

1. Take a property inventory – The inventory lists all items in the property (furniture, kitchenware, etc.) and should be approved and signed by both parties. Taking photos of the property is a recommended measure as photos can be useful in the case of a dispute.

2. Check the property fulfils safety requirements – The law requires landlords to make sure their property meets the fire safety requirements. Click here to find a list of the Minimum Standards.

3. Communicate lease & key information – Landlords are required to share their name and contact details and it is recommended that landlords ask for the tenant’s PPS number. If the property is in a rent pressure zone, landlords have they are required to share with their tenant. Find out more about rent pressure zones.

4. Follow-up with tenant’s references – Landlords should ask for references and follow-up with these references prior to signing a lease agreement. It is also recommended that the landlords request the tenant’s PPS number in the case of a dispute.

5. Obtain a security deposit from tenant – A security deposit is a sum of money that is paid by a person to the landlord before tenancy begins. The landlord holds onto the deposit and returns it at the end of the tenancy assuming the tenancy agreement have been honoured.

6. Sign Lease Agreement & Register with the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB) – Once both parties have signed the tenancy agreement, register or renew registration with the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB). All landlords must register their tenancies. Click here to find out more about RTB registration.



Security Deposits Made Easy

Security deposits help ensure the lease agreement is kept. Understanding the purpose of the security deposit and the legality of the deposit is essential to maintaining correct tenancy standards.

Click here to read our guide ”A Short Guide to Security Deposits for Residential Tenancies.’

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of money that is paid to the landlord before tenancy begins. The landlord holds onto the deposit and returns it at the end of the tenancy assuming the lease has been honoured.


How much should a deposit be?

Normal practice is that one months rent is paid as a security deposit however there are no legal guidelines for how much the deposit should be.


When should the security deposit be paid?

Once the terms of the letting are clear the tenant should pay the deposit as part of agreeing to rent the property. The security deposit should be agreed and a signed and dated receipt provided to both the landlord and tenant.


Who holds the security deposit?

At the outset of the tenancy it should be clear who is holding the security deposit and who will be responsible to return it at the end of the tenancy. Contact details of the person or agent retaining the deposit should also be obtained at the outset of the tenancy. In a situation where an agent is leasing the property on behalf of the landlord, the deposit is normally handed over to the agent. This deposit is paid over to the landlord by the agent once the tenancy commences.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Security Deposit Checklist: What to review before you return the deposit

Working through a checklist is the best way to make sure you haven't missed anything. This checklist will be useful when returning a security deposit.


Checklist for the return of the security deposit

  • Has the correct notice of termination been provided in writing?
  • Has the rent been paid in full?
  • Have meter readings of the utilities been taken and arranged for final payment
  • Have all belongings been removed?
  • Has the property been returned in a similar condition in which it was provided apart from normal wear and tear?
  • Has the property been cleaned?
  • Has the signed-off inventory agreed at check-in been checked to ensure that all items are present and not damaged?
  • Has all the rubbish been removed?
  • Have you taken photographs at the start and end of the tenancy?

Trust the Experts with your Property

When you want to let a property, you can take advantage of the expertise of a letting agent who is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and follows the standards set out by the SCSI in the Private Rented Sector Code of Practice. SCSI letting agents can provide expertise at every stage of the process of letting a property.

Here are some of the advantages of using an SCSI regulated agent.

•They give you clear, impartial and expert advice
• They act in your interest
• They are tightly regulated and have to follow strict rules of conduct
• SCSI members have a specific set of rules and best practice guidance, such as the SCSI Private Rented Sector Code of Practice which is designed to ensure SCSI letting agents provide an exceptional service
• SCSI members have to update their skills and knowledge throughout their careers, so you can rely on their expertise

Find an Expert

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a brief summary of the various costs to consider when letting your property:

  • Taxation – Landlords are liable to pay tax on income received from rent. Further information can be obtained from the Revenue Commissioners
  • Letting Agents Fees – There are likely to be fees incurred for employing an agent to undertake the administration and management of your property. Charges may vary slightly from one agent to another, so it’s worth pricing around to get the best deal.
  • Repairs and Maintenance– Any repairs or maintenance that is required on the property will need to be paid for by the landlord, unless it is damage caused by the tenant.
  • Gas and Electricity – You will need to ensure that all gas and electrical appliances are in correct working order.
  • Registering with the PRTB– You will have to register the tenancy with the PRTB no later than one month following the commencement of the tenancy.
  • Insurance –  It is advisable that you have insurance on your property and make sure you know exactly what is covered in the policy. You will need to advise the insurers that the property is being let.

When you have found suitable tenants for your property you will need to agree the terms and conditions of the let with them. To avoid disputes and confusion at a later date, a tenancy agreement is recommended.


An SCSI letting agent can draw up a tenancy agreement which must be signed by both the landlord and the tenant and will likely include the following:


  • The tenancy terms
  • The costs that the tenant will be responsible for
  • The security deposit required
  • The total sum required on signing
  • Any guarantor requirements, if applicable
  • The methods of payment that could apply; and
  • The procedure to follow when the tenant comes to sign the tenancy agreement.


Prior to the commencement of the tenancy, an SCSI letting agent can also prepare an inventory which lists everything in the property and the condition it is in. This will be vital in settling any disputes which arise in relation to damage of the property. This will also have to be agreed by the tenant and the landlord.


Click to read our complete guide ‘A Clear Impartial Guide to Letting’ 

Factors that will Impact on the Level of Rent:

  • Location
  • Market conditions at the review date
  • Property transactions that have taken place in the vicinity
  • Size and layout of the property
  • Length of lease and frequency of reviews
  • Unusual/onerous lease provisions or unduly severe service charge cost


What is a Rent Review?

A Rent Review is the mechanism enabling the adjustment of the rent on a premises to the current market level at the review date.

When do Rent Reviews usually occur?

It depends on the terms of the lease. Leases often incorporate a rent review at 3 or 5 year intervals.

Can Rents go down as well as up?

Leases prior to 28th February 2010 contain upward only rent reviews which state that the rent will remain the same or increase, subject to market conditions. If the rent review is not upward only and the market had deteriorated since the last review, the rent of the property could be fixed at a lower level than was previously being paid.

In December 2009, the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act banned upwards only rent reviews in new leases commencing after 28th February 2010.

Are Rent Review Clauses the same in all leases?

No and as rent review clauses are often very long and complicated, you should always take professional advice from a Chartered Surveyor when faced with a rent review. The terms of an individual lease can affect the level of rent payable.

How is a Rent Review Activated?

The rent review process is usually initiated by a notice from the landlord. A specific figure will be quoted for the new rent. If this does not seem reasonable, the tenant must write and say so immediately. The tenant is entitled to ask for the basis of this figure and request on which the figure is based.

In some circumstances there are strict time limits to object and if you miss these deadlines, it may mean that the tenant will have to pay what the landlord is asking for.

Both parties or their representatives will then proceed to agree the revised rent. This will be based on market evidence generated from transactions on properties that can be compared to the property under review. Factors that will impact on the level of rent.

Comparable Evidence

Comparable evidence is the level of rental being achieved for similar types of property in the same area as the property under review. Often the most reliable comparable evidence is found close to the subject property, however, sometimes evidence can be scarce and the valuers must look further afield. It is up to the valuer to quantify the differences between the comparable evidence and the subject property.

Differences include location, size, and date of transaction, lease terms and the physical condition of the property. The quality of comparable evidence available can vary.

The ‘Hierarchy of Evidence’ ranks the different types of comparable evidence to show which is ’best’ evidence, to which most weight should be attributed when forming an opinion of rental value.

By law, a deposit is considered the tenant’s but the landlord can establish a right to keep the deposit in certain circumstances. A landlord cannot keep a security deposit for ‘normal wear and tear.’

Rent Arrears

If at the end of the tenancy, there is rent outstanding, the landlord may legitimately retain part or all of the deposit to cover the arrears.

Damage to the property above normal wear and tear

Deductions may be made or the deposit retained in full, if there has been damage above normal wear and tear to the property.

Examples of these damages could be:

  • A broken window.
  • Holes in the wall.
  • Leaving litter or personal items in the property.
  • Leaving the property in a unhygienic or unsafe condition.
  • Not returning the property in a clean manner.
  • Items broken or missing from the inventory.

Utility bills and other charges

If the tenant owes money for utility bills, such as gas or electricity, and the utility bill is in the landlord’s name, the landlord may withhold part or all of the deposit to cover these costs.

The tenant should always retain a copy of the bills to ensure that payment is applicable to what is being owed.

Notice of termination

If a tenant provides insufficient notice of their termination of the tenancy, or they terminate a fixed term tenancy before the end of the agreed term.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) will provide you with all the information you need to know from starting a tenancy to ending it.
Check out the RTB website for more information

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