How do I pick the best tenants?
“A vacant property is far better than one with a bad tenant”
Screening tenants is the most important part of managing rental property. While no landlord wants to have vacant property – it is better (and cheaper!) to have an empty property than one with a bad tenant who may end up costing you thousands in lost rent and damages by the time you eventually manage to get them out.
From the very first contact with the tenant, the screening process has begun.
Picking a Tenant – Don’t Descriminate?
A landlord cannot refuse to rent a property to any prospective tenant because of their gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the travelling community.
Do I need to use a letting agent?
This is a personal choice and depends on a number of factors including:
Do you have the time to manage the property?
Do you live near the rental property?
Do you have enough knowledge of the rules and regulations?
What are the options when using a letting agent?
There are two main options when using a letting agent:
1) Let Only Service: Some landlords use an estate agent to find and screen tenants and then look after the on-going maintenance and tenant management themselves
2) Full Management Service: Some landlords use an estate agent or management company to manage the whole process from finding tenants to the on-going management of the property.
Which option you choose is a matter of personal choice, it can be influenced by the amount of time you have available, whether or not you live close to the property and whether or not you have the time – remember however that there is no allowance against tax for your own time spent managing property.
What references should I ask for?
Always ask for at least two written references. The most common references are from:
· Previous landlord: Try to find out why the tenant is moving.
· Employers: Is the tenant in full time employment?
· Bank reference: If the tenant doesn’t have a bank account how will they pay the rent?
Always check the references and that the referee actually exists!
What is a holding deposit?
When you agree to rent a property to a tenant, it is common practice to request a holding deposit in order to hold the property for them and to take it off the market.
There is no set rule on the amount but a minimum of one weeks rent is a guide. A receipt should be given for the holding deposit.
How much of a security deposit can I ask for?
Most landlords will look for one months rent as a deposit. In more expensive properties or for corporate lets, landlords may request more to reflect the more expensive nature and fit-out of the property. Remember a months rent as deposit doesn’t go very far if a tenant damages a property. Good tenant screening and selection is therefore critical.
What is an inventory of contents?
An inventory is the itemisation of the contents of the property and their condition.
Every landlord should have an inventory for each property as it outlines not only what is in the property, but also what condition the contents are in at the time of letting and this can help to prevent disputes when tenants move out.
Do I need a written lease?
A lease agreement is not required by law but a good lease agreement is essential to the effective management of investment property and it helps to avoid disputes and disagreements during the course of the tenancy.
A lease agreement should cover:
· The length of the tenancy
· The rent and how it is paid
· The deposit payable
· Notice periods
· What bills the tenant is responsible for
· Who is responsible for grass cutting / garden maintenance
· The number of occupants allowed
· Are pets allowed?
· Any restrictions on the use of the property
· Special conditions e.g. the deposit cannot be used as the last months rent
It is important to ensure that any lease agreement used complies with Residential Tenancies Act
What is a sub-tenancy?
A sub-tenancy usually arises where the tenant does not wish to occupy the tenancy for the entire term and lets the property to another person. The tenant in these circumstances is referred to as the head-tenant and the party allowed into occupation is the sub-tenant. The head-tenant will generally remain legally liable for the payment of the rent to the landlord, whether or not the head-tenant receives this from the sub-tenant.
The tenant can only create a sub-tenancy with the landlord’s written consent, which can be refused for no stated reason. Where a landlord refuses consent to sub-let a fixed term tenancy, the tenant may terminate the tenancy before the expiry of the fixed term.
What is property handover?
Handover is the process where landlords legally hand their rental property over to the tenant and a tenancy comes into being.
On the move-in day the landlord needs to:
· Meet the tenant at the property
· Agree the inventory of contents and their condition
· Sign the lease agreement
· Complete the PRTB Registration form
· Collect the deposit and first months rent
· Take the utility meter readings
· Handover the keys
When do I register with the PRTB?
A tenancy must be registered with the PRTB within one month of the tenancy commencing
Registration costs €90
How do I contact the PRTB?
Phone the PRTB: 9:00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday - 0818 30 30 37
How should I furnish my rental property?
Many landlords spend a substantial amount of money purchasing a rental property and then skimp on the cost of furnishing and fit out. They then wonder why the property is slow to rent and does not command top rent.
There is nothing worse than a potentially attractive property that is furnished badly. Poorly chosen furniture is more likely to put off prospective tenants than to bring in the premium rent a landlord desires.
How a property is furnished is a key part of marketing your rental investment.
Don’t expect prospective tenants to be happy with ‘old fashioned, damaged and miss-matched furniture’ that better belongs in a skip.
A well furnished and presented property is easier to market and will rent much quicker than a badly furnished property. Tenants are also likely to stay longer in nicely finished properties.
What does fully furnished mean?
Once the property complies with the rental standards regulations there is no legal requirement on landlords to provide specific items and the exact contents and quality of items is an individual choice
Make sure during viewings to clarify to prospective tenants what contents are included
What are the Minimum Standards for Rental Properties?
Minimum standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009.
Rental properties are subject to inspection by the local authorities to ensure they are compliant
Details on the standards can be found here (insert link)
What appliances do I have to provide?
The following must be provided in a rental property:
4 ring hob with oven and grill
Provision for the effective and safe removal of fumes to the external air by means of cooker hood or an extractor fan
Fridge and freezer
Washing machine within the dwelling unit or access to a communal washing machine facility within the curtilage of the building
In cases where the accommodation does not contain a garden or yard for the exclusive use of this accommodation, a dryer must be provided.
What is Market Rent?
Market rent is defined by the PRTB “as a rent that a willing tenant not already in occupation would give and a willing landlord would take for the dwelling, having regard to other terms of the tenancy and the letting values of dwellings of a similar size, type and character to the dwelling and situated in a comparable area to that in which it is situated.”
Do I have to supply bed linen and towels?
There is no obligation to include bed linen. What is included with the property is a decision for individual landlords. With the exception of corporate or short term letting it is unusual for bed linen to be provided.
Do I have to supply pots and pans and delph?
There is no obligation to include these items. What is included with the property is a decision for individual landlords.
Which is better on floors - carpets or wood?
As with all decorative matters this is a matter of personal taste. Wooden floors are more durable and require less maintenance. Carpets can give a warmer cosier feel to a property but are not as durable. They do however absorb noise better. A common approach taken by many landlords is to put wooden floors in the downstairs rooms and carpets upstairs. Some apartment buildings do not permit wooden floors in order to prevent noise travelling between apartments.
What are a landlords legal obligations?
Landlords must comply with the terms of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004
Under the act landlords are obliged to:
· Register with the PRTB within 30 days of commencement of the tenancy
· Repair and maintain the premises to the standard that it was originally let at
· Give the tenants peaceful and exclusive occupation
· Provide the tenant with a contact address and telephone number
· Ensure that tenants comply with their obligations particularly with regard to anti-social behaviour
· Serve tenants with a valid Notice of Termination
What rights do tenants have?
Tenants have certain rights in relation to their tenancy. These include the right to:
· Quiet and peaceful occupation of the dwelling
· Obtain contact with the landlord or agent at all reasonable times
· Reimbursement for reasonable expenditure on any repairs carried out by them for which the landlord was responsible
· Refer a dispute to the PRTB relating to the tenancy and not be penalised by the landlord for doing so
· Be charged a fair market rent
What are tenants obligations?
Certain minimum obligations are laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. Failure to comply with any of these obligations could result in the termination of the tenancy subject to the landlords compliance with the act.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 tenants must:
· Pay the rent and any other specified charges,
· Avoid causing or make good any damage beyond normal wear and tear,
· Notify the landlord of any repair requirements,
· Allow access for repairs to be carried out and by appointment for routine inspections,
· Keep the landlord informed of the identity of the occupants
· Not engage in or allow anti-social behaviour
· Not act, or allow visitors to act in a way that would invalidate the landlord’s insurance,
· Not cause the landlord to be in breach of statutory obligations,
· Not alter, improve, assign, sub-let or change the use of the
dwelling without written consent from the landlord,
· Provide the landlord with the information required so as to register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB)