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Buying, Selling, Renting an Apartment

There are certain considerations to think about when buying, selling or renting an apartment as opposed to other property types.  This is because the apartment can often be located in a shared building with communal indoor and outdoor spaces.  Some considerations are:

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.

If you are selling:

To close your sale as quickly as possible, as well as the usual considerations when selling residential 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 your landlord is selling:

If you are a tenant and your landlord decides to sell the apartment, you have certain rights.  Read your rights and obligations as a tenant below:

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.

Rights as a Private Tenant

  • You are entitled to quiet and exclusive enjoyment of your home. If noise from other tenants or neighbours is disturbing you, ask them to stop and also inform your landlord. If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint.
  • You are entitled to certain minimum standards of accommodation
  • You are entitled to a rent book
  • You have the right to contact the landlord or their agent at any reasonable times. You are also entitled to have appropriate contact information for them (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.)
  • Your landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If the landlord needs to carry out repairs or inspect the premises, it should be by prior arrangement, except in an emergency
  • You are entitled to be reimbursed for any repairs that you carry out that are the landlord’s responsibility
  • You are entitled to have visitors to stay overnight or for short periods, unless specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement. You must tell your landlord if you have an extra person moving in
  • You are entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of your tenancy
  • You are entitled to at least 90 days’ notice if your landlord wants to review the rent and there are rules about how often they can do this
  • You are entitled to refer any disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalised for doing so
  • You have the right to a copy of any register entry held by the RTB about your tenancy
  • All homes for rent must have a Building Energy Rating (BER), stating how energy-efficient the home is. This will help you to make an informed choice when comparing properties to rent.

Obligations of a Tenant

You must:

  • Pay your 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 you do not cause the landlord to be in breach of the law
  • Comply with any special terms in your 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 you are ending the tenancy

Termination of a Tenancy

How easily your landlord can end your tenancy depends on the type of tenancy you have and how long you have been in the accommodation.  If you have a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord cannot normally end the tenancy unless you are in breach of your obligations.

The landlord can end a Part 4 tenancy only in the following circumstances:

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

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

If the landlord intends to sell the property within 9 months of the termination of your 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 you are not keeping your obligations, your landlord only needs to give you 28 days’ notice, regardless of the length of your tenancy. However, if your behaviour is seriously anti-social or threatens the fabric of the property, the landlord only needs to give you 7 days’ notice.

If your rent is in arrears, your landlord must first give you written notification of the amount owing and must give you 14 days to pay the arrears. If you still have not paid 14 days after you got this notification, your landlord can then give you 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

If your landlord locks you out or physically evicts you, you may be able to apply for an injunction to force them to let you back into the property or you may apply to the RTB to do so on your behalf. Similarly, if your landlord cuts off water, gas or electricity, you may be able to take legal action to restore the supply. In either case, you should contact us for legal advice and assistance before you proceed. Your landlord cannot remove your possessions from your home while your tenancy is still in existence (though after a tenancy has ended, a landlord is under no legal obligation to store or maintain belongings).

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