IN today’s property market, finding rented accommodation that is affordable is particularly challenging.
With a limited supply of rented property available and huge demand, finding somewhere to rent can be a stressful experience. The pressure is on to try to secure a place to live by putting down a deposit as quickly as possible.
Before parting with any money though, and to avoid becoming a victim of rental scammers you should:
• Always visit the property – don’t agree to rent it through a website or social media
• Never transfer funds electronically to someone claiming to be an agent/landlord until you are sure you have a legitimate transaction
• Check that the keys work and that you have full and correct contact details for the landlord/agent who is authorised to rent the property.
You should never hand over a deposit to a prospective landlord/agent until you are sure that you are happy with the condition of the property, the terms and conditions of the letting and are willing to rent it.
Some landlords or agents may ask you for a holding deposit when you decide to take the accommodation. This is a sum of money you pay to hold the property before you sign the lease and enter into a contract with the landlord. You should always get a written receipt for a holding deposit.
Holding deposits are often not refundable if you don’t take up the accommodation. As a tenancy has not been created, it is not possible to avail of the Residential Tenancies Board dispute resolution to try to get back your money. You may be able to pursue the matter through the Small Claims Court.
You will be asked for a security deposit before moving into the accommodation. The landlord holds this deposit as security to cover any rent arrears, bills owing or damage beyond normal wear and tear at the end of the tenancy.
You cannot be forced to make upfront payments of more than two month’s rent. This includes a deposit of a month’s rent and one month’s rent in advance. This restriction applies to all tenancies created from 9 August 2021 and is set out in the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021.
You should get a receipt for any deposit you pay. Your rent book should state how much of a deposit you paid.
Students in student-specific tenancies can opt-out of this restriction and pay a larger upfront payment if they want. The Residential Tenancies Board has a guidance document about this legislation.
Help with the deposit
If you are getting a social welfare payment and are unable to pay the deposit, the Department of Social Protection’s representative may be able to help.
If you are in emergency homeless accommodation, your local authority may help with any deposit needed to get accommodation under the HAP scheme.
Record of condition at start & end of tenancy
When you move in, your landlord must provide you with an inventory of the contents of the property. You should keep a record of the condition of everything that is listed, taking photos if possible, and agree this in writing with your landlord.
Before leaving the property you should clean it thoroughly, remove all your possessions, dispose of all rubbish and take dated photos to show the condition in which it was returned.
Losing the deposit
You may lose some or all of your deposit if:
• You leave without giving proper notice, or leave before the end of a fixed-term lease
• You cause damage to the accommodation beyond normal wear and tear
• You leave with unpaid bills
• You leave with rent arrears.
Residential Tenancies Board
If you believe that your landlord is unfairly withholding your deposit, you should request it in writing. If you cannot reach agreement/secure the return of your deposit you can make a complaint to the RTB and opt for mediation or adjudication on the issue. Mediation is free. Adjudication costs €15.00 if you apply online and €25.00 if submitting a paper application.
For further information call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. The offices are staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm.
Alternatively you can email [email protected] or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie