Students: Do you know your renting rights?

EMER MORRISSEY, Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)’s interim Head of Dispute Resolution, shares some advice for first time and returning college students
Students: Do you know your renting rights?

If you have any questions about your tenancy or your rental rights and responsibilities, the RTB can help.

MOVING away from home and into a new city or town for the first time can be daunting. Heading into college is a pivotal time for students and indeed for their parents.

If you are heading to college for the first time or you’re in your last year, and you’re looking to rent, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Student Rental Checklist should be the first place that you go to ensure that you are starting your tenancy on the right foot.

Our checklist is a quick and easy way for you to be as prepared as possible coming into the new school year. From experience, the RTB knows students might feel overwhelmed when finding a new home and we’re here to help.

The (RTB) have released their five top tips for first time and returning college students. The tips will help remind students of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to renting, whether it’s their first-time renting student accommodation or their last.

The most common issues students face when renting are related to knowing the rental basics, like making sure they are aware of the terms and conditions they signed up to in their lease or license agreement, how much rent or a deposit to pay, or that the RTB is here to help.

If you are a student renting this year, it doesn’t matter if your interior design consists of empty pizza boxes and bean bags but what does matter is that you use the RTB Student Rental Checklist below:

Take a look around: Although it can be tempting, you should not sign a tenancy agreement or pay a deposit for the first place you see - take some time to check out other properties and find somewhere that can best meet your needs. And always view a property in person before signing a tenancy agreement.

Check out the basics: When viewing accommodation available to rent, check that it meets basic minimum standards. All rented accommodation must meet a certain number of basic requirements, for example, hot and cold water must be available to the tenant. Also, if you are sharing accommodation with friends or other students, make sure everyone is aware of the terms and conditions in the lease agreement that you all signed up to.

Pay your deposit & get a receipt: Landlords will often ask for a deposit at the start of the tenancy. A landlord cannot ask you to pay more than one month’s rent as a deposit. Ideally, you should only pay a deposit once you have viewed the property and are happy with the terms of the tenancy agreement. Once you’re happy with the property, make sure to ask for a receipt that clearly states the amount and date paid.

Know how much to pay: If your tenancy is in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), rents cannot be increased by more than general inflation. You can check out if your tenancy is in a RPZ, verify the previous rent charged and if you are being charged the right amount of rent by visiting the RTB’s Rent Pressure Zone calculator on rtb.ie. Also, along with only being required to pay one month’s rent as a deposit, students cannot be asked to pay more than one month’s rent in advance unless they wish to do so.

Contact the RTB if you need help

If you have any questions about your tenancy or your rental rights and responsibilities, the RTB can help. Call us Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm on 0818 303037 / 01 702 8100 or visit www.rtb.ie and speak to one of our customer service agents via WebChat.

Student Specific Accommodation (SSA)

SSA came under the RTB’s remit on 15th July 2019 under the Residential Tenancies Act (Amendment) Act 2019.

This means that:

Higher Educational Institutions, such as universities or colleges, who provide SSA to students during the academic year and purpose-built SSA provided by the private sector are under the remit of the RTB.

All student tenancies/licences entered into on or after 15th August 2019 must be registered with the RTB.

All students, tenants and licensees in SSA have access to the RTB Disputes Resolution Service, and landlords whose tenancies are registered with the RTB also have access.

Please note however that Rent a Room, DIGS Style Accommodation and short-term lets do not fall within the RTB’s remit.

What is the Residential Tenancies Board?

The Residential Tenancies Board, also known as the RTB, is a public body set up to support and develop a well-functioning rental housing sector. Our remit extends to the private rental, Approved Housing Body (AHB) and Student Specific Accommodation sectors.

Our role is to regulate the rental sector, provide information and research to inform policy, maintain a national register of tenancies, resolve disputes between tenants and landlords, initiate an investigation into conduct by a landlord, and provide information to the public to ensure tenancies run smoothly and no issues arise.

Information, Research and Education: The RTB provides high-quality information and assistance to landlords, tenants and the public on their rental rights and responsibilities, both in terms of living in and providing accommodation in the rental sector.

We also provide accurate and authoritative data on the rental sector, such as the Quarterly Rent Index, which allows us to monitor trends in the rental sector, but also allows individuals to check and compare rents in particular locations.

Registrations: All private residential landlords, Approved Housing Bodies (who are not-for-profit housing providers, often referred to as Housing Associations) and landlords of Student Specific Accommodation must register their tenancies with the RTB. You can search to see if a tenancy is registered on the RTB website.

The registration of tenancies enables us to collect important data on the sector. It is also a key part of regulating and supporting the sector and ensuring that landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Dispute Resolution: Since 2004, the RTB replaced the courts in dealing with the majority of disputes between landlords and tenants through our Dispute Resolution Service. This service offers a choice of resolution types to parties – Telephone Mediation or Adjudication – and the option to appeal through a Tenancy Tribunal.

Investigations and Sanctions: The RTB has powers to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in certain breaches of rental law called Improper Conduct, such as increasing the rent by more than is allowed under the calculation set out in the Residential Tenancies Act or ending a tenancy by citing a reason which the landlord did not ultimately act on, amongst others. Investigations can commence either on the basis of information received from a member of the public or proactively by the RTB on the basis of information available to us under the Residential Tenancies Act. Sanctions include a formal written caution and/or a fine of up to €15,000 and/or costs of up to €15,000. See www.rtb.ie for more

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