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Buying, Selling, Renting an Apartment

If you are buying an apartment as an investment, there are certain factors to consider.  There are also factors to consider if you plan to sell it on.  An apartment can often be located in a shared building with communal indoor and outdoor spaces, adding further issues to prepare for.

If you are buying:

Leasehold 
Most apartments are held or owned under long leases.  As with all leases, there are covenants or agreements in the lease which you need to be aware of.   Make sure you get a copy of the lease and read it.

Service Charges 
What are annual service charges and what do they cover – garden, caretaker, electricity, satellite television, a sinking fund?

Condition 
Consider the condition of the apartment itself but also the garden, car park, hallways, stairs, landing and lifts.

House Rules 
The management company, of which you will be a member, generally puts a written set of rules in place.  Request a copy and read it.

Insurance 
Check out the block insurance policy which your management company has put in place. Ask if it covers any valuables or furniture, what the rebuild cost is and if there is an excess on the insurance policy.  Find out if the cost of any alternative accommodation is covered.  Remember to have your own insurance policy for your own belongings.

How active is the Residents’ Association and what exactly are they responsible for?

Ensure that an Architect or Engineer carries out a survey and check if there is a Homebond or other structural guarantee in place and if there is a Building Energy Rating Certificate.

A property manager/agent – is usually a professional company appointed by the Owners’ Management Company to arrange the day to day work of cleaning public areas and grass cutting etc.  They can only have a contract for a maximum of 3 years.

Renting Your Apartment 
If you buy an apartment and decide to rent it out, make sure that you:

  • Put a lease in place
  • Notify the Private Residential Tenancies Board
  • Give your tenant a copy of the house rules
  • Ensure to keep all receipts for service charges, NPPR receipt if applicable (Non Principal Private Residence Charge), household charge receipt, local property tax receipt, Building Energy Rating Certificate etc. as these will be needed if you are selling the apartment.

If you are selling:

To close your sale as quickly as possible, as well as the usual considerations when selling property, we will also require information and accounts from the OMC (Owners Management Company) or the agent appointed by the OMC. This will give information on the annual service charge, the budgets, the sinking fund etc.

If you decide to sell the apartment, you have certain obligations towards your tenant.  Your tenant also has obligations.

Rights and Obligations of Landlords and Tenants

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and introduced detailed rules about residential tenancies.

There have been several amendments to this legislation since then, the most notable being:

  • An extension to the period of a Part 4* tenancy from 4 years to 6 years for tenancies created from 24 December 2016
  • Removal of the provision that allowed a landlord to end a further Part 4 tenancy during the first 6 months without having to give a reason
  • Measures to prevent the simultaneous serving of termination notices on large numbers of residents in a single development
  • An increase in the notice periods needed when a landlord terminates a tenancy that is over 6 months and less than 5 years.  See ‘Notice periods’ below.
  • Amendments to some of the obligations and procedures that a landlord must follow when terminating a tenancy
  • Student-specific accommodation were brought under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

*After the first 6 months, a tenant gets ‘security of tenure rights’.  The provisions on security of tenure are in Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.  Hence, the rights that they give are generally known as Part 4 rights.

If you are renting from a local authority, you are not covered by this legislation.  If you are renting a room that is part of your landlord’s home, your tenancy is not covered by this legislation.

Your Tenant is Obliged to:

  • Pay the rent on time
  • Pay any other charges that are specified in the letting agreement, for example, waste collection charges; utility bills; management fees to the management company in an apartment complex
  • Keep the property in good order
  • Inform the landlord if repairs are needed and give the landlord access to the property to carry out repairs
  • Give the landlord access (by appointment) for routine inspections
  • Inform the landlord of who is living in the property
  • Avoid causing damage or nuisance
  • Make sure that there isn’t cause for the landlord to be in breach of the law
  • Comply with any special terms in the tenancy agreement, oral or written
  • Give the landlord the information they need to register with the RTB and sign the registration form
  • Give the landlord proper notice when ending the tenancy

Termination of a Tenancy

How easily the tenancy can be ended depends on the type of tenancy in place and how long the tenant has been in the accommodation.  If there is a fixed-term tenancy in place, the landlord cannot normally end the tenancy unless the tenant is in breach of obligations.

As a landlord, you can end a Part 4 tenancy only in the following circumstances:

  • If the tenant does not comply with the obligations of the tenancy
  • If the property is no longer suited to needs (for example, if it is overcrowded)
  • If you intend to sell the property within 9 months.  However, this reason may not apply if you plan to sell 10 or more dwellings in a development within a 6-month period.
  • If you need the property for your own use or for an immediate family member
  • If you plan to change the use of the property (for example, convert it to office use)
  • If you plan to refurbish the property substantially

In all cases, you must serve a valid notice of termination.  The notice can be posted, given to your tenant in person or be left at the address.  If it appears that the tenant is not living in the property, you can affix the notice to the outside of the property.

A Notice of Termination must:

  • Be in writing (an email or text is not sufficient)
  • Be signed by the landlord (or an authorised agent)
  • Specify the date of termination of the tenancy
  • State that the tenant has the whole 24 hours of the termination date to vacate the property
  • Specify the date of the notice itself
  • State the reason for termination, if a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months or is a fixed-term tenancy. (This does not have to be included in a valid notice of termination for tenancies in student-specific accommodation.)
  • State that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the RTB within 28 days from the receipt of the notice.

If you intend to sell the property within 9 months of the termination of the tenancy, the notice of termination must state that “The reason for the termination of the tenancy is due to the fact that the landlord intends to sell the dwelling, for full consideration, within 3 months after the termination of the tenancy”. The landlord must enter into a contract for sale within 9 months of the termination date. The notice must also include a statutory declaration stating the landlord’s intention to sell.

Since June 2019, if a landlord ends a tenancy because they are selling the property and it becomes available for rent again, the landlord must offer it back to the tenant that had to vacate the property within 12 months of the expiry of their notice period.

Notice Periods                                          

Length of tenancy   Notice that the landlord must give
Less than 6 months 28 days
6 months or longer but less than 1 year 90 days
1 year or longer but less than 3 years 120 days
3 years or longer but less than 7 years 180 days
7 years or longer but less than 8 years 196 days
More than 8 years 224 days

Exceptions to Required Notice Periods

If the tenant is not keeping their obligations, you only need to give 28 days’ notice to your tenant, regardless of the length of the tenancy. However, if the behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property, you only need to give 7 days’ notice.

If the rent is in arrears, you must firstly, give your tenant written notification of the amount owing and allow 14 days to pay the arrears. If you still have not been paid 14 days after issuing the notification, your can then give 28 days’ notice of termination.

Landlords and tenants can agree shorter notice periods than the minimum periods set out above, but they can only do so at the time they decide to terminate the tenancy. It is illegal to agree a shorter notice period at the start of the tenancy.

Landlords and tenants can also agree longer notice periods, but the maximum is 70 days when the tenancy has lasted less than 6 months.

Eviction

As a landlord, you must follow the rules outlined above.  You may not:

  • Lock your tenant out of the property or physically evict them.  The tenant may be able to apply for an injunction to force you to let them back into the property or they may apply to the RTB to do so.
  • Cut off water, gas or electricity.
  • Remove your tenant’s possessions from your home while the tenancy is still in existence (though after a tenancy has ended, you are under no legal obligation to store or maintain belongings).

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