Student Issues

The Importance of Knowing Your Rights As A Tenant

The name of the student has been changed on request.

The best thing about moving out of your family home is the freedom it entails. The majority of people who attend university tend to live on campus for their first year. This is a brilliant way to make new friends and get to know the college and the campus.

While the housing hunt for most students can prove tough, many students oftentimes settle for the first property they see, fearing the lack of choice. Sometimes this can lead to difficult living situations – and sometimes it doesn’t!

It’s so important to know your rights as a tenant when you start renting. Contracts can be tricky, and some landlords might try take advantage of the fact that you’re a first time renter.

I spoke to UL student Ella, who spent her first year living in Plassey Village, but then decided to rent a house in Elm with four other girls for her second year. Overall, she feels it has been a relatively positive experience.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a bad landlord, the rent is reasonable and when our kettle broke (due to the fact that it was old) he replaced it no problem.”

However, Ella also feels more restricted here than ever. While her landlord was helpful intially, upon reading their lease a little more closesly, it states:

“The tenant confirms that the Landlord or the Landlord’s agents shall have the right to enter the premises:

(a) At any time in the case of an emergency.

(b) At reasonable times for the purpose of inspecting, cleaning or making such alterations, repairs, improvements or additions to the premises or to the building, as the Landlord may reasonably deem necessary.

(c) Upon 24 hours oral/written notice to show the premises to prospective tenants.”

These are all reasonable and viable conditions, but underneath those there is a part that says,

“For the avoidance of doubt, the tenant confirms that at any time, with or without notice, the landlord may enter the remaining areas.”

Despite the fact that the girls all agreed on this, Citizens Information on renting say that “a lease should not contain terms that contradict the legal rights of tenants and landlords. If this happens, your legal rights as a tenant or landlord supersede the terms of the lease. For example, your landlord cannot enter the property at any time without seeking your permission. This is the case even if your lease states that the landlord may enter the property at any time.”

“He comes to the house at least three times a week … and he has not once given us any notice,” Ella stated.

During the Christmas holidays, Ella was staying in the house by herself as she was working in Limerick.

“There was a day over Christmas where I was sat on the sitting room floor wrapping presents, so there was presents, wrapping paper, scissors and sellotape on the floor, the landlord came in and told me the place was so messy it was a health and safety hazard.

I told him that it was just presented (sic) and if he had told me he was coming I could have cleaned up. He then threatened to have me out of the house and told me that all landlords are like this.”

It’s important to realise that all landlords are not like this, and should not be like this.

Know your rights when renting a house. Read all relevant information on Citizens Information and if you’re in doubt, ask someone for help. There are plenty of students who will have been in similar situations, and the Student’s Union is also availble for help.

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