How to find a house or apartment to rent
Before viewing an accommodation you should always think of these few decisions to consider:
- How much you can afford in rent and utility bills
- The quality of the house or apartment to rent
- The Building Energy Rating (BER) of the property
- The location of the property
- How long you plan to stay there
- Whether you wish to share a bedroom/bathroom/kitchen etc.
Finding a property or house to rent or buy
Most flats, apartments or houses are advertised on accommodation websites such as Keane Thompson.
Other sources include the accommodation sections of newspapers; advertisements in shops; college notice boards etc. Most Student Unions keep accommodation lists as well. You may also find available accommodation through word of mouth or ‘To Let’ signs on properties.
Accommodation agencies or letting agencies are commercial organisations that help you find private rented accommodation. Before registering with an agency, you should find out:
- Is the agency licensed?
- What services does it offer?
- If you pay a fee, in what circumstances will you be entitled to a refund?
- If you are entitled to Rent Supplement, does the agency have landlords on its list who accept Rent Supplement?
- If you decide to register with the agency, make sure you get a receipt for any money you pay.
Viewing a flat or house
Minimum standards apply to accommodation being offered for rent.
You may find the following viewing checklist helpful:
- Are there any signs of dampness?
- Do the windows open?
- What security is available (such as window locks, burglar alarm)?
- Is a smoke detector provided and is it functioning?
- Is there a fire alarm? Check fire evacuation procedures (especially in apartments)
- Who pays for the heating? What hours is it on, and who controls it?
- Is hot water available all or some of the time?
- Are the cooker and fridge clean and in working order?
- What sort of condition is the bathroom in?
- Do you have to share the bathroom, if so, with how many others?
- Is there storage for bicycles?
- Does the property have a parking space? Threshold recommends that you get confirmation that a parking space is provided with the accommodation in writing from your letting agent or landlord before handing over any money.
- Is there a bus route or other public transport nearby?
- Are there shops and other facilities nearby?
Before you sign an agreement or contract
Make sure you can afford the rent being asked.
If you will be claiming Rent Supplement, make sure you know the local maximum rent level allowed. Tell the landlord that you intend to claim Rent Supplement since they will need to fill out part of the application form and supply their own details.
Be aware of your rights and your obligations as a tenant and your landlord’s rights and obligations. Your landlord, for example, is obliged to provide you with a rent book and to ensure that the accommodation meets certain minimum physical standards. They must also register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).
If the landlord wants you to sign a fixed-term lease, don’t agree unless you are sure you want to stay for that length of time. If you leave before the end of a fixed-term lease, you may lose your deposit. Read more about the different types of tenancy.
You are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation if you are renting a room in your landlord’s home.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 (pdf) which was signed into law on 4 December 2015, changes some of the rules in this area. Further details will be available shortly.
Ask the landlord for a written list of all furnishings and appliances provided. You and the landlord should sign this list at the start of the tenancy to show that you agree on the furnishings supplied and their condition. This will help to prevent disputes during your stay and when you are leaving. This list should be included in the rent book.
If there are any signs of damage by previous tenants, make sure this is noted too. You could photograph or otherwise record the existing condition of the property and any damage to walls, furniture or appliances
If there are outstanding repairs, ask the landlord to state in writing that they will be carried out.
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 for you 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.
You will be asked for a security deposit before moving into the accommodation. Usually a deposit is the equivalent of 1 month’s rent and is held by the landlord as security for any rent arrears or damage beyond normal wear and tear.. If you are getting a social welfare payment and are unable to pay the deposit, the Department of Social Protection’s representative (formerly the Community Welfare Officer) may be able to help with paying a deposit under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. You should get a receipt for any deposit you pay. The amount of deposit paid should be stated in your rent book. You may lose 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 bills or rent unpaid.