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Landlord & tenant disputes

When you rent or let a property a legal relationship is created between the landlord and the tenant. Even if this arrangement is informal, it is bound by specific housing legislation.  The legislation defines the certain basic rights that all private tenants are entitled to, whether living in controlled or uncontrolled properties and their obligations to the Landlord.  If you are a Landlord you should be clear about the property you have let, who you want to let it to, how you want it to be let and what your rights and obligations are.

The rights, obligations and responsibilities of both the Landlord and Tenant are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act. Disputes often arise where there has been a breach of one or more of these rights and obligations.

The legal Rights and Obligations of a Landlord

As a landlord, you have certain rights. You are entitled to:

  • Charge a market rent (uncontrolled tenancy)
  • Agree the terms of the tenancy
  • Receive rent when it is due
  • Be advised of necessary repairs
  • Be given proper notice to quit by the tenant

If any of your rights have been breached by your Tenant, you are entitled to redress and can enforce those rights by bringing legal action against your Tenant for rent arrears of for possession of your property. 

Similarly, there are certain duties which a Landlord has and upon which a Tenant can sue where there has been a breach or one or more. The Landlord has:

  • A duty to deliver possession
  • A duty to comply with the covenant for quiet enjoyment
  • An implied warranty of habitability of the premises [that is, that the premises are fit for human habitation in the case of repair, sanitation, natural lighting, damp, ventilation, water supply and drainage]

The legal Rights and Obligations of a Tenant 

There are also certain fundamental rights that all Tenants enjoy such as:

  • The right to a rent book
  • The right to proper notice to quit
  • The right to freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
  • The right to due process of law
  • The right to claim Housing Benefit [where applicable]
  • The right to a tenancy statement
  • The right to default repairs
  • The right to a default tenancy term

Although a tenant can sue upon breach of any of the above rights [including any specific and additional rights which may be set out in the Tenancy Agreement], it should be noted that Harassment and Illegal Eviction are both criminal offences and a Landlord who is found guilty of this can be imprisoned or fined. 

In addition, a deposit which a Tenant has paid on or after 1 April 2013 must be protected in one of the three authorised Tenancy Deposit Schemes approved by the Department for Social Development. The landlord or agent must protect this deposit within 14 days of having received it. The landlord must also provide the tenant with information on the deposit scheme he or she is using and a list of other prescribed information within 28 days of receipt of the deposit monies.