Looking for a flat or house to rent
This document outlines some of the things that you might want to consider when looking for private rented accommodation.
Before viewing accommodation you should consider:
- How much you can afford in rent and utility bills
- The quality of the accommodation
- The Building Energy Rating (BER) of the property
- The location of the property
- How long you plan to stay there
- Whether you want to share a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen
Finding private rented accommodation
Most rooms, flats, apartments and houses to rent are advertised on accommodation websites. You can search for a particular type of accommodation and set up alerts for your specific requirements.
Other sources include the accommodation sections of newspapers, advertisements in shops and college notice boards. Most student unions keep accommodation lists as well. You may also find available accommodation through word of mouth or 'To Let' signs on properties.
Accommodation agencies or letting agencies are commercial organisations that help you find private rented accommodation. They may charge you a fee. Before registering with an agency, you should find out:
- Is the agency licensed?
- What services does it offer?
- If you pay a fee, in what circumstances will you be entitled to a refund?
- If you decide to register with the agency, make sure you get a receipt for any money you pay.
Viewing a flat or house
Minimum standards apply to rented accommodation. You may find the following viewing checklist helpful:
- Are there any signs of dampness?
- Do the windows open?
- What security is available (such as window locks, burglar alarm)?
- Is a smoke detector provided and is it functioning?
- Is there a fire alarm? Check fire evacuation procedures (especially in apartments)
- Who pays for the heating? What hours is it on, and who controls it?
- Is hot water available all or some of the time?
- Are the cooker and fridge clean and in working order?
- What sort of condition is the bathroom in?
- Do you have to share the bathroom, if so, with how many others?
- Is there storage for bicycles?
- Does the property have a parking space? Threshold recommends that you get confirmation that a parking space is provided with the accommodation in writing from your letting agent or landlord before handing over any money.
- Is there a bus route or other public transport nearby?
- Are there shops and other facilities nearby?
Before you agree to rent
Make sure that you can afford the rent being asked, either from your own income or with available State support, such as the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rent Supplement or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).
Discrimination when letting residential property
The Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 apply to lettings and accommodation. Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants on grounds of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.
You cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rent Supplement or any other social welfare payment. This means that landlords can no longer state when advertising accommodation that HAP (or Rent Supplement) is not accepted and they cannot refuse to rent you accommodation because you are getting a social welfare payment. If you feel you have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, you can find out more about making a complaint under the Equal Status Acts.
Read more on the website of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).
Rights and obligations
Be aware of your rights and your obligations as a tenant and your landlord's rights and obligations. For example, your landlord must provide you with a rent book and ensure that the accommodation meets certain minimum physical standards. They must also register the tenancy with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
If the landlord wants you to sign a fixed-term lease, don't agree unless you are sure you want to stay for that length of time. If you leave before the end of a fixed-term lease, you may lose your deposit.
If you are renting a room in your landlord's home, your tenancy is not covered by landlord and tenant legislation, but it is covered if you are renting a self-contained apartment or flat. Read more in our document on Sharing accommodation with your landlord.
At the start of a tenancy ask the landlord for a written list of all furnishings and appliances provided. You and the landlord should sign this list to show that you agree on the furnishings supplied and their condition. This will help to prevent disputes during your stay and when you are leaving. This list should be included in the rent book.
Make sure that you note any signs of damage by previous tenants. You could photograph or otherwise record the existing condition of the property including any damage to walls, furniture or appliances.
If there are outstanding repairs, ask the landlord to state in writing that they will be completed.
Some landlords or agents may ask you for a holding deposit when you decide to take the accommodation. This is a sum of money you pay to hold the property before you sign the lease and enter into a contract with the landlord. You should always get a written receipt for a holding deposit. Holding deposits are often not refundable if you don’t take up the accommodation.
You will be asked for a security deposit before moving into the accommodation. Usually a deposit is the equivalent of 1 month’s rent and is held by the landlord as security for any rent arrears or damage beyond normal wear and tear. If you are getting a social welfare payment and are unable to pay the deposit, the Department of Social Protection’s representative (formerly the Community Welfare Officer) may be able to help with paying a deposit under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. If you are in emergency homeless accommodation, your local authority may help with any deposit needed to get accommodation under the HAP scheme. You should contact the housing section of your local authority for further information on this.
You should get a receipt for any deposit you pay. Your rent book should state how much of a deposit you paid. You may lose your deposit if:
- You leave without giving proper notice, or leave before the end of a fixed-term lease
- You cause damage to the accommodation beyond normal wear and tear
- You leave with bills or rent unpaid.
Further information and support
Threshold is a useful source of information and advice on landlord and tenant issues. Read Threshold's advice on seeking private rented accommodation,dealing with problems during your tenancy and ending a tenancy. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) helps to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, including any disputes about retention of deposits. It has published a Good Landlord/Tenant Guide with general information for landlords and tenants.
Its One Stop Shop also has useful resources and a webchat facility.