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November 2015

Question

I plan to leave my house, which I have rented for the last year, on December 30th. I notified my landlord who informed me that, since I have rented the house for a year, I should have provided him with two months’ notice.

I immediately conducted some research on the internet and it would seem that I am only compelled to provide 42 days. Can you confirm if this is correct? My landlord is often unreasonable, and isn’t very professional in his approach to his tenants. I believe that I am not registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board Ireland (PRTB). To cut a long story short, my landlord has threatened to withhold my deposit. Any advice in this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

Deposit retention is a frequent issue that crops up at the end of tenancy agreements. The relevant legislation that covers your query includes the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, and the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011. The PRTB is usually the relevant forum for adjudicating complaints such as yours, if the property is indeed registered with it. It is a legal requirement that landlords must register tenancies with the board and penalties apply for non-registration. You can check the PRTB’s website to see if your tenancy is indeed registered. If it is not, you can apply to the board to have it take action against the landlord to have the tenancy registered. Until a tenancy is registered, the board is precluded from dealing with any dispute relating to the tenancy that may be referred to it by the landlord.

The next issue that ideally requires clarification is how you occupy the premises; whether by way of a fixed-term lease (usually one year), or a Part 4 Tenancy whereby there is no lease in place and you have been in occupation for more than six months.

Even if you are in occupation under a fixed term agreement, and the lease expires on 30th December, you are still required to serve a termination notice on the landlord informing him of your intention to vacate. A fixed-term tenancy cannot be broken unless there is a breach of obligation by the landlord or it contains a break clause. I’ll presume you are not breaking a fixed-term agreement.

The relevant notice periods depend on how long you were in occupation and are as follows: - Six months-1 year – 35 days’ notice. - One-two years – 42 days’ notice.

For your notice of termination to be valid it must: - Be in writing (not by text message or provided verbally); - Be signed by you; - Specify the date of service of the notice; - Specify the termination date. The day that is to be specified as the termination date is the last day of the notice period. The notice period starts on the day following service of the notice of termination. - You are not required to give a reason for termination as it appears to me the lease will have expired; - State that any issue as to the validity of the notice may be referred to the PRTB within 28 days of the receipt of the notice.

I think this is a clear cut issue. I suggest you take the following action:

Establish whether or not the tenancy is registered and if not contact the PRTB to have them commence registration proceedings against the landlord if it is not. Either way, serve a proper notice of termination on the landlord as set out above. It would be better to give an additional couple of days’ notice to allow for delays in delivery.

I do not believe your landlord has reason to withhold any part of your deposit, on the condition the property is handed back in good condition and you have fully complied with your obligations as a tenant.

Full details are available on the PRTB website.

Edward Carey is a chartered residential agency surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.