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November 2015

Question

I’m currently renting a house which has a significant number of structural issues. The bedroom ceiling leaks every time it rains heavily. The landlord has been notified each time it has happened over the past 13 months. He has attempted to repair the leak, but the problem persists and has led to a number of my personal possessions being damaged. As a result I no longer wish to live in the house and would like to leave before our 24 month lease expires. If we did this, would it be possible to get our deposit back. We have evidence of the leaks. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

All local authorities now have minimum housing standards for rented accommodation and these can be found on the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s website www.environ.ie.

Under these standards it clearly states that all rental accommodation must be maintained in a proper state of structural repair. This means that the dwelling must be essentially sound, internally and externally, with roof, roofing tiles/slates and down pipes/fittings maintained in good condition and repair, and not defective.

For breach of minimum standards a tenant can contact their local authority and take a case against their landlord. Local authority inspectors usually inspect rental properties for the purpose of ensuring they comply with the regulations and can set out a timeframe to remedy any breach of the regulations. Where a property does not comply, the local authority can impose sanctions against a landlord until the breach of the regulations has been rectified.

The Private Residential Tenanacies Board (PRTB) was also established in 2004 on foot of the Residential Tenancies Act, and you can apply on line for an adjudication hearing or a dispute resolution for as little as €25, or €15 regarding standards not being maintained.

The PRTB will then hear the case and make a determination on whether you can serve your landlord with a “notice of termination” on the ground of failure of the landlord to meet their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

“Equally, a tenant who has entered into a tenancy for a fixed term is bound by the terms of the contract entered into and may not terminate the tenancy before expiry of the fixed term unless the contract so allows or there has been a breach of the landlord’s obligations”.

Alan Nolan is a chartered residential agency surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.