What is Private Rented Accommodation?
Renting is an agreement whereby a payment (rent) is made for the temporary residential use of a property owned by another person or company (the landlord). There is usually a written rental agreement or contract involved to specify the terms of the rental, which are regulated and managed under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.
A tenant must pay a regular rent payment to the landlord and in the majority of cases, an upfront deposit is required as a form of secure payment.
What types of tenancies are there?
Traditionally there have been three types of tenancies in Ireland:
- Periodic Tenancies: this tenancy can be a weekly or monthly agreement depending on when you pay your rent. There is not a fixed amount of time associated with it. They are usually based on informal agreements between the tenant and the landlord
- Fixed term Tenancies: this type of tenancy is based on a specific period of time set down in a written contract called a lease agreement. It is a legal contract between the tenant and the landlord. The lease sets out the terms of the rental arrangement, e.g. rent amount, term of the agreement, obligations of the tenant and the landlord, what happens if the terms of the agreement are broken
- Rent a room: this is where a tenant rents a room in the landlord’s home and lives with the landlord. This tenancy is not governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004
- The standards for privately rented houses are set out in the above legislation. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 came into effect on the 1st of April 2019
- Landlord's Responsibilities: landlords are legally obliged to ensure that their private rented houses (which include a house, flat or an apartment) are maintained in good condition and repair. Landlords are required to ensure that their lettings comply with the Regulations while letting and while available for letting
Contact: Private Rental Accommodation Inspections, Housing Dept, Cork County Council, Floor 4, County Hall, Cork.
Tenants occupying rented accommodation not meeting the relevant standards should, in the first instance, contact their landlord in order to give the landlord an opportunity to put the matter right. If a tenant has notified the landlord regarding the need for repairs, but the problem has not been rectified by the landlord, then the tenant may chose to refer the matter to the Local Authority Housing Department for investigation. The Housing Department will issue the tenant with a complaint form, which the tenant should complete fully (providing their details, the landlord/agent details along with full details of their complaint/concerns/query).
Complaints cannot be dealt with when:
- They are anonymous
- The matter does not relate to housing standards
- There is insufficient information given to investigate
- The tenant is in rent arrears
If it is the opinion of the Housing Section that the complaint requires further investigation, then an appointment will be made to inspect the relevant property and further action initiated if warranted.
The standards for private rented houses are set out in the above legislation. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 came into effect on the 1st of April 2019.
The main objective of these regulations is to establish minimum standards in order to protect the health and well being of tenants and which makes private rented houses safe and fit for habitation.
What is the Landlord Responsible For?
Landlords are legally obliged to ensure that their private rented houses (which include a house, flat or an apartment) are maintained in good condition and repair. Landlords are required to ensure that their lettings comply with the Regulations while let and while available for letting.
Enforcement of Housing Standards in Private Rented Houses
Responsibility for the enforcement of the regulations rests with the relevant local authority. Local authority inspectors inspect rental properties for the purpose of ensuring they comply with the regulations and where a property does not comply, can engage a series of sanctions against a landlord up to and including prosecution in the District Court.
Landlords failing to comply with their legal obligations in private rented houses are liable to be prosecuted, and on conviction, may be subject to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both, along with a daily fine of €400 for a continuing offence.
Eligibility and Exceptions:
The revised regulations will apply to all rental accommodation with the exception of the following:
- Holiday homes
- Accommodation provided by the HSE or an approved housing body containing communal sanitary, cooking and dining facilities.
- Demountable (e.g. mobile homes) housing provided by a housing authority accommodation let by a housing authority or an approved housing body will be exempt from the requirements for food preparation, storage and laundry purposes. In this kind of accommodation the tenant usually provides these goods, retaining
Do the regulations apply to listed buildings?
Listed buildings were covered by the 1993 regulations and will continue to be required to meet the requirements of the new regulations. The owner or occupier of a protected structure is entitled to ask the planning authority to identify works that would, or would not, require planning permission in the case of their particular building. Landlords will be advised to contact the conservation officer in the local authority for advice when considering undertaking works.
What are the key features of the Regulations?
Structural Condition – Regulation 4
All rental accommodation must be maintained in a proper state of structural repair. This means that the dwelling must be essentially sound, with roof, floors, ceiling, walls and stairs in good repair and not subject to serious dampness or liable to collapse because they are rotted or otherwise defective. Windows more than 1400mm above ground level must be fitted with safety restrictors.
Sanitary Facilities - Regulation 5
All rental accommodation must contain the following self-contained sanitary facilities:
- Water closet (toilet), with wash hand basin adjacent to it supplied with hot and cold water
- Fixed bath or shower, supplied with hot and cold water
- These facilities must be provided in a room separate from other rooms by a wall and door and contain separate ventilation.
Heating Facilities – Regulation 6
All habitable rooms must contain a fixed appliance (or appliances) capable of providing effective heating. The tenant must be able to control the operation of the heating appliance.
There must also be, where necessary, provision for the safe and effective removal of fumes to the external air.
Suitably located devices for the detection and alarm of carbon monoxide gas should be provided.
Food Preparation and Storage and Laundry – Regulation 7
All rental accommodation shall contain the following self-contained facilities:
- 4 ring hob with oven and grill
- Provision for the effective and safe removal of fumes to the external air by means of cooker hood or an extractor fan
- Fridge and freezer
- Microwave oven
- Sink with a draining area
- Adequate number of kitchen presses for food storage purposes
- Washing machine within the dwelling unit or access to a communal washing machine facility within the curtilage of the building
- In cases where the accommodation does not contain a garden or yard for the exclusive use of this accommodation, a dryer must be provided.
Ventilation – Regulation 8
All habitable rooms must have adequate ventilation, maintained in good repair and working order. Kitchens and bathrooms must be provided with adequate ventilation (mechanical extraction vent) for the removal of water vapour to the external air.
Lighting – Regulation 9
All habitable rooms must have adequate natural lighting; all rooms (including every hall, stairs and landing) must have a suitable and adequate means of artificial lighting. Emergency lighting, linked to fire alarm systems, must be provided in all units within a multi-unit building.
Fire Safety – Regulation 10
It is proposed to distinguish between multi-unit dwellings and rental units which do not form part of a multi-unit dwelling.
- Multi-unit dwellings will be required to contain a mains-wired smoke alarm, a fire blanket, emergency lighting in common areas and an emergency evacuation plan.
- Rental units that do not form part of a multiple unit (houses) must have a fire blanket and either at least two mains-wired smoke alarms or at least two 10-year self-contained battery-operated smoke alarms.
- Smoke alarms should be in working order and within their “end of life” indicator.
Refuse Facilities - Regulation 11
The revised regulations will require access for tenants to proper, pest and vermin-proof refuse storage facilities. The use of communal storage facilities, where appropriate, will be considered to comply with the regulations.
Gas, Oil and Electricity Installations – Regulation 12
Installations in the house for electricity, oil and gas supply must be maintained in good repair and safe working order.
Information – Regulation 13
The tenant should be provided with sufficient information about the property.
What changes were brought in under the 2019 Regulations?
The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 supercede the 2017 regulations of the same name.
The 2019 Regulations brought in additional requirements relating to houses let by housing authorities or housing bodies for a minimum lease period of 10 years.