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Maintaining a Rental Property: Who is Responsible and How Does it Happen?

Jun 21, 2022

by

Amy Shorten
rental property maintenance ireland

For somewhere to feel like home, it needs to be clean, comfortable and most importantly safe. But sometimes, confusion can arise around the landlord’s and the tenant’s responsibilities in these areas.

Thankfully, there are clear regulations and guidelines about keeping rental properties in a suitable condition. Keep reading to discover who needs to do what and how to deal with concerns or disagreements about a property.

What condition should a rental property be in?

Landlords are responsible for providing a property that will be a safe, functional and comfortable home for their tenants.

Naturally, different people have different opinions about acceptable living conditions; one person’s minimum standard may seem lavish to another and vice versa.

As a result, the Housing (Standards for Rented Properties) Standards Regulations 2019 were brought into force. These regulations are commonly thought of as the Minimum Standards. They lay out the expected condition of a rental property, as well as the facilities which should be provided. The following are some areas that need to be considered before a tenancy begins:

Structural Condition

Sanitary Facilities

Heating Facilities

Food Preparation and Storage and Laundry

Ventilation

Lighting

Fire Safety

Refuse Facilities

Gas, Oil and Electricity Installations

Compliance is a legal requirement and Local Authorities are responsible for making sure properties are up to the required standard.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has produced a helpful visual guide to minimum standards. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s a useful resource for seeing if a property meets legal expectations. A slightly different guide is available for properties under Approved Housing Bodies.

How do inspections work?

A landlord is entitled to inspect their property on a regular basis to make sure it’s being kept in good condition. Inspections also provide opportunities for the landlord and tenant to discuss plans for future repairs.

The RTB recommends carrying out an inspection every 3 months. Ideally, this routine would be made clear and discussed at the start of the tenancy.

However, a landlord can’t just appear whenever they want. The property is the tenant’s home and they have the right to “peaceful and exclusive use of the property”. As a result, the tenant needs to give permission for the landlord to come in. It’s good practice for a landlord to give notice of when they would like to visit, ideally in writing.

On the other hand, problems can arise if a tenant keeps refusing access to the landlord. Tenants are expected to let their landlord check the property and carry out necessary repairs.

Inspections and access are a balancing act of rights and responsibilities. The process works best with clear communication and mutual respect. Visit the Threshold (Ireland’s Housing Charity) website for more details about the ins and outs of property access.

Who is responsible for repairs?

Everyday life takes its toll on a property, especially if children are living there. This wear and tear is to be expected and is the landlord’s responsibility.

Of course, the phrase “wear and tear” is somewhat vague. To help clarify its meaning, the RTB has a helpful definition:

“Normal wear and tear occurs where deterioration of the rented dwelling takes place over a period of time due to ordinary and responsible use of the dwelling.”

The RTB also encourages landlords to consider factors such as the length of tenancy and number of occupants when deciding if something counts as wear and tear or not.

All damages beyond reasonable wear and tear are the responsibility of the tenant. Such damages might include broken windows, holes in walls or ripped curtains.

As soon as a maintenance issue arises, the tenant should report it to the landlord. If possible, all communications about repairs should be in writing; it makes life easier for everyone if there’s a paper trail.

There are no legal timeframes for carrying out repairs and maintenance. However, Threshold has come up with guidelines for three different types of repairs:

Emergency (such as faulty wiring): Should be dealt with immediately

Urgent (such as a broken shower): Should be dealt with within 3-5 days

Routine (such as broken furniture): Should be dealt with within 14 days

A tenant is entitled to a refund if they end up carrying out an essential repair that wasn’t fixed by the landlord within a reasonable timeframe. A tenant is also entitled to a refund if they deal with a repair with the landlord’s consent.

I’m a tenant. Can I redecorate the house?

Your landlord should redecorate the house when needed to keep it up to standard. However, there may be a particular reason why you want to change something: repainting a child’s room, for example. In situations like this, you need to get the written permission of your landlord before getting started.

How do I deal with a disagreement over maintenance, inspections, access or repairs?

When it comes to the condition of a property, a variety of disagreements might arise. These could include:

A landlord not keeping the property up to the Minimum Standards

A tenant consistently refusing access for inspections

A landlord ignoring requests for repairs

A tenant consistently causing damage to the property

Initially, it’s best to try and sort these issues out in person. Arrange a meeting with the other party, keeping written records at every stage of the communication process.

However, if the problem persists, you can contact the RTB for help through their dispute resolution service. They have a variety of ways of dealing with disagreements and will help you to find the one most useful for your situation. Check out our guide to landlord/tenant disputes to learn more.

If you’re a tenant with serious concerns about the condition of your home, you have two choices. You can either contact the RTB as described above, or you can make a complaint to your Local Authority. Local Authorities have responsibility for the standards of rental properties in their areas.

At the beginning of a tenancy, it can be useful to make a detailed record of the condition of the property and its contents. It’s a good idea to include photographs, especially of any pre-existing damage. The landlord and tenant should both sign off on this document. It provides a handy reference point for use in inspections or if a question arises about damages later on in the tenancy.

Where can I find out more?

The RTB website is one of the best places to find detailed information on these topics. Check out their guides about:

Threshold has an interesting article about standards and repairs from a tenant’s point of view. They also offer information about access to a property.

Finally, you can access the Housing (Standards For Rented Properties) Standards Regulations 2019 here.

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