Landlord Rights (Residential)



Landlords Obligations

A landlord must:

  • Give the tenant receipts for rent if the tenant pays in cash
  • Give the tenant stating what period the rent paid relates to.
  • Give the tenant 60 days written notice of a rent increase.
  • Give the tenants 40 hours notice of an inspection.
  • Give the tenants 24 hours notice for any entry to make repairs.
  • Inform the tenant of any intention to sell the property.
  • Make sure the locks and fastenings are working and adequate.
  • Make any necessary repairs within a reasonable time.
  • Reimburse the tenant for any urgent repair work that the tenant has to have done.
  • Make sure the property is clean and in a fit and habitable condition.
  • Pay all outgoings, rates, insurance, land tax etc.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that tenants are not disturbed by the landlord or others.

A landlord must not:

  • Ask for more than 2 weeks rent in advance.
  • At any stage during the tenancy, ask for more rent in advance to be paid.
  • Inspect the property more than once in a four week period.
  • Harass the tenant.
  • Interfere with or allow others to interfere with the tenant's peace, privacy and comfort.
  • Interfere with the gas, water, electricity supply or telephone.
  • Unreasonably withhold permission for a tenant to sublet
  • Unreasonably withhold permission for a tenant to attach any fixtures.
  • Change the locks without the tenants consent.
  • Enter the property except as permitted by law or with the tenants consent.


Discrimination
You cannot discriminate based upon the tenants ability to pay, pets, waterbeds, number of occupants, honesty, permanence or any other quality required of tenants.


Inspecting the Premises
As a landlord you have the authority to inspect the rental premises prior to the tenant's occupancy and during the occupancy. You are responsible for any dangerous conditions and you have a duty to inspect the premises before allowing the tenant to take possession.


Rent Arrears
When you have problems with the rent payments make sure that you sort it out quickly. You should be keeping good rent records and monitor them so that the rent does not fall behind. As soon as your tenants rent is in arrears you should contact them by phone or mail and try and discuss the situation.

The sooner you can sort it out the better. It may be that there has been an error by their bank or misunderstanding about when the rent was due. If your tenant cannot pay all the rent due it is better to encourage them to pay what they can rather than miss the whole rent payment. If they have missed paying some or all of the rent try suggesting that they pay extra to catch up.

If you cannot source something out with your tenant or you haven't been able to contact them they you will have to send them notification setting out what the problem is. They will have to fix it within 10 working days. You will need to tell them that if this doesn't happen you will take it to the Tenancy Services and ask to have the tenancy terminated.


Abandoned Goods
Sometimes at the end of a tenancy, the tenant moves out and leaves a lot of things behind. A lot of it may be rubbish but there may be items that are of some value and have been left behind by mistake. The problem is that sometimes it is difficult to find the tenant once they have left. There is a temptation to throw it out, especially if a new tenant has come in and wants to take over.
If you know where the tenant is or where to reach them then you can ask them to come and claim the items. If nothing happens then you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to dispose of the goods.


Abandoned Premises
Sometimes tenants leave a property with rent owing and without notice having been given. In other words, they do a runner. When this happens the tenancy is considered to have been abandoned. The landlord should arrange as soon as possible for the property to be re-let. If the tenant has left the tenancy the first thing to do is to try and contact them. If the property has been abandoned then you should try and have them sign over possession which will make things a lot simpler as you will be able to have access to the property straight away.
If you do not have any joy at all and want the matter resolved then you can go to the Tenancy Services and make an application for the Tenancy Tribunal to have the tenancy terminated.


Evicting a Tenant
An eviction is a court action. That is, it is a legal direction that the court can give ordering your tenant to move out.

In order to evict a tenant, you have to have a valid reason, such as:

  • Non payment of rent
  • Damage to the property
  • Violation of the provisions in the lease
  • Not vacating the premises at the end of the lease


Landlords and the Workplace Safety Legislation
As a landlord, you have some duties in relation to occupational safety and health under the Health, Safety and Employment Act 1992. Under the Act a person who controls the workplace has a duty to take all the steps necessary to ensure that no hazards arise. As a landlord or ‘owner' of a property you are included in the Act's definition of a person who controls a place of work. Therefore you as a landlord become an employer, required under section 16 to take steps to prevent any harm occurring to your employees or customers. As a landlord you are not permitted to contract out of the Act. That is, you cannot include a term in the lease that your duties under the Act will not apply.


Rights of Entry
As a landlord you are entitled to enter the premises to inspect them or to do necessary repairs and maintenance. You have to give at least 24 hours notice.


Landlord's Right to Increase Rent
You can increase the rent every six months. You must provide at least 60 days written notice of the increase. In the case of a fixed term tenancy, you cannot increase the rent other than as permitted by the tenancy agreement. If the tenant believes that the rent is too high they can apply to the tenancy tribunal for review of the rent. In general, a landlord can increase the rent if he or she has made substantial improvements to the premises where he or she has incurred expenses that were not foreseeable when the rent was last fixed.