I’m a long-term tenant and want to renew my tenancy. Can I?

Posted on 18 April 2018

I’ve been living in a rental property for more than 7½ years. During this time there have never been any issues and I’ve had a good relationship with the letting agent who manages the property. I’m coming to the end of my second Part 4 tenancy agreement this summer, but would like to stay on in the property. My rent was increased at the end of 2017, but I’m conscious that it is still significantly below the current market rate. Can my landlord – who I know will not be moving in, nor are there any plans for renovation or sale – give me notice to prevent me starting a third Part 4 tenancy agreement? I’ve had conflicting advice on my legal position.

Security of tenure for tenants is provided for in Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as amended. When a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for six months they are then entitled to remain for a further 3½ years where the tenancy began before December 24th, 2016, or a further 5½ years where the tenancy began on or after December 24th, 2016, irrespective of whether a fixed-term lease agreement is in place. The initial four- or six-year tenancy cycle, depending on when your tenancy commenced, is known as a Part 4 tenancy. When this initial tenancy cycle ends and your occupation continues you enter in to a Further Part 4 tenancy.

Once the tenancy becomes a Part 4 or Further Part 4 tenancy there are only certain grounds the landlord can rely on to terminate the tenancy. The grounds referred to are:

1. The tenant has breached their obligations.

2. The property is no longer suited to the tenant’s needs.

3. The landlord requires the property for personal or family use.

4. The landlord wants to sell the property.

5. Significant refurbishment of the property is to take place.

6. The use of the property is changing.

It is however important for tenants to note that there is a provision permitting a landlord to serve a notice terminating the tenancy before a Further Part 4 tenancy cycle commences without having to rely on one of the above grounds, although a reason for the termination must be provided.

The reason cited in the sample Notice of Termination is “that the landlord is entitled to terminate the tenancy before a further Part 4 tenancy cycle commences”. The notice must be in accordance with the law which is quite prescriptive, for instance, the notice period must expire on or after the end of the Part 4 tenancy.

The amount of notice needed to end a tenancy depends generally on how long a tenant has lived in the property. It can range from 28 days if the tenant is in occupation for six months, to up to 224 days if the occupation is for more than eight years. The RTB would recommend both landlords and tenants review our sample notices on our website: onestopshop.rtb.ie/ending-a-tenancy/

Tenants should note that if their tenancy is located in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), rents can only rise by up to 4 per cent annually. If tenants vacate and new tenants move in, the same restrictions apply on a landlord when setting the new rent. Outside of an RPZ a landlord can only review the rent once in any 24-month period and landlords cannot set a rent that is in excess of market rent.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) encourages dialogue between landlords and tenants around any concerns that may arise during a tenancy to see if an agreement can be reached to enable the tenancy to continue.

Where an issue cannot be resolved the RTB provides a free mediation service where a trained mediator facilitates both sides in coming to an agreement. There is also the option of an adjudication hearing; this is a formal and confidential process whereby an appointed adjudicator makes a decision, based on evidence presented by both parties, the fee for an adjudication hearing is €15.

Determinations from both mediation and adjudication are appealable to a tenancy tribunal.

Source: Janette Fogarty, head of dispute resolution services, Residential Tenancies Board (RTB.ie) Irish Times, Wednesday 11th April, 2018