Landlord And Tenant Issues

Landlord And Tenant Issues

Landlord & Tenant issues

Many of the disputes between tenants and landlords or property owners are due to the fact that the parties involved are not fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.

They key to successfully avoiding dispute is knowing your rights and responsibilities so that you can abide by them.

If you are a first time landlord, we strongly recommend taking the time to fully understand your rights & responsibilities. If you are a seasoned landlord, we also recommend staying up to date with current guidelines & legislation.

How to avoid Disputes

Essential elements of a good Tenancy Agreement

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.

Tips for selecting good tenants

  1. Check the RTB board to see if tenant has been involved in previous disputes
  2. Ask for supporting documents such as proof of employment, employer reference, landlord reference
  3. Check all references thoroughly
  4. Don't discriminate: Focus on the facts of employment & references to make sure you don't end up missing out on reliable tenants

SCSI letting agents may also validate all references provided by any prospective tenant. This generally includes checking credit references, previous employers and landlords and where necessary guarantors references. Once this has been concluded, an SCSI lettings agent can provide you with a shortlist of tenants.

Once you have chosen a tenant that satisfies your requirements an SCSI letting agent can arrange for a security deposit to be collected. An SCSI letting agent follows a particular set of regulations regarding the holding of client money in order to ensure that deposits and indeed rent can, at all times, be accounted for.

Understanding Tenant Rights & Responsibilities

Tenant Rights:

  • You are entitled to quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home
  • You are entitled to certain minimum s standards of accommodation
  • You are entitled to a rent book if no lease is provided
  • You have the right to contact the landlord or their agent at any reasonable times. You are also entitled to have appropriate contact information (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.)
  • Your landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If the landlord needs to carry out repairs or inspect the premises, it should be by prior arrangement, except in an emergency
  • You are entitled to reimbursement, with the prior permission of the landlord/ agent, for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord’s responsibility
  • You are entitled to have friends to stay overnight or for short periods, unless specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement
  • You are entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of your tenancy

 

Tenant Responsibilities:

  • Pay your rent on time
  • Keep the property in good order
  • Inform the landlord if repairs are needed and give the landlord access to the property to carry out repairs
  • Give the landlord access (by appointment) for routine inspections
  • Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
  • Avoid causing damage or nuisance
  • Comply with any special terms in your tenancy agreement, verbal or written
  • Give the landlord the information required to register with the PRTB and sign the registration form when asked to do so

How to resolve disputes

What to do if there are disputes in relation to the deposit?

If a tenant thinks their landlord is unfairly keeping their deposit, they should discuss it with the landlord and try to resolve the situation.

If a tenant and landlord cannot resolve the situation an application may be made to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The RTB offer two options for dispute resolution:

1. Mediation – this is a fast and free service where an independent mediator helps a landlord and tenant come to an agreement. Mediation can also be done via telephone, which is a faster and more convenient option.

2. Adjudication – this involves a hearing before an independent adjudicator, where both the landlord and tenant present their evidence and the adjudicator makes a binding decision. The fee for adjudication is €15 for an online application and €25 for a paper application. If a landlord or tenant is unhappy with the outcome of either mediation or adjudication, they can refer their case to a tenancy tribunal, who are appointed to review the case and evidence from the beginning and make a final decision. The maximum amount of damages that can be awarded to either side in a dispute is €20,000.

The RTB also has very useful guidance for landlords and tenants in relation to their rights and obligations. These guides can be downloaded at www.rtb.ie.

Rent Review Dispute: What happens if the revised rent cannot be agreed with the landlord (or sometimes the tenant)?

If the new rent cannot be agreed, the lease will normally specify a procedure for resolving the disagreement. Usually, it will state that the parties should first try to agree on the appointment of an independent third party e.g. Chartered Surveyor specialising in valuation to determine the new rent. If the parties are unable to agree themselves a prospective third party, the lease usually provides for the appointment to be made by the President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. The independent party will act either as an arbitrator or independent expert to determine the new rent.

The Society maintains panels of suitably qualified members which the President may consult when appointing or nominating persons to act as independent experts or arbitrators in relation to rent reviews.

The functions of the Society President under the terms of rent review clauses in leases, is strictly confined to the appointment/nomination of Arbitrators/Experts. The President will appoint a chartered surveyor with special training and experience to act as arbitrator or independent expert.

A person will not be appointed if there is a real danger of bias, but it should be realised that the arbitrator or independent expert will probably have had dealings with other properties in the area. It is in the interests of both landlord and tenant that the person appointed has the appropriate expertise.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arbitrator versus Independent Expert

What are the main differences between the roles of the Arbitrator and the Independent Expert?
Arbitrator Independent Expert
Governed by the Arbitration Acts Governed by the Common Law
Can only make decisions based on parties’ submissions Not limited to parties’ submissions Can make appropriate investigations and use own expert judgement
Arbitrator has discretion on costs Expert is guided by the lease
Can make an order for discovery Discovery not within power

The rent review provisions in the lease will usually specify the capacity in which the independent third party is to act. Some leases specify that it is the landlord who has the right to decide whether the independent third party is to act as arbitrator of independent expert.

The arbitrator’s award or the independent expert’s determination is usually released after his or her fees have been paid. The arbitrator has complete freedom to decide how the fees and costs are to be apportioned between the parties. However, in the case of the independent expert, fees are usually apportioned equally, unless the lease dictates otherwise.

Once the award or determination is been issued, the revised rent will become payable immediately and will be effective from the review date. Often, leases contain a provision for the payment of interest on arrears of rent that will have built up from the review date to the date of settlement.

Find an Expert

Make sure you entrust your property to the professionals.

A good letting agent will help you avoid dispute and make letting an easy process for you.

In the event that a dispute should occur, you can trust SCSI professionals to act as arbitrators to ensure the dispute is resolved legally and equitably.

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