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Landlord Solicitor Cork and Midleton, Advice: When a tenant fails to pay their rent
Landlord Solicitor Cork, Karen Walsh talks about rent with a landlord who is experiencing difficulties getting paid.
Landlord Solicitor Cork and Midleton
I would like to know what my legal options are in the following situation. I have a farm cottage that I have been renting to an individual for more than a year now. Unfortunately I have not received any rent over the past number of months. Is there anything I can do?
In this instance, we need to look at the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004. This Act stipulates that all tenants are obliged to pay the agreed upon rent as per your agreement. When a tenant fails to make this payment in the time stipulated it is possible to terminate the rental agreement.
In your case, because you have been renting to the tenant for a period longer than 6 months, you need to complete these 3 steps:
The tenant should be provided with written notice saying they have broken the rental agreement by failing to pay their rent on time or in full.
A fourteen day warning should then be provided in writing for the failure of the tenant to pay their rent as agreed.
The third and final step is to serve a twenty eight day termination of tenancy notice.
Step One: A Notice Obligations Breach
There are certain procedures a landlord needs to follow in order to be in compliance with regulations and to avoid any disputes that may arise. The following must be in place/observed:
(i) Your tenant must be in rental arrears.
(ii) You should allow your tenant a reasonable amount of time to fix the situation.
(iii) Once you have given the tenant reasonable time in which to remedy the situation (with a fixed timeframe) and the tenant does not do so, you may then terminate the rental agreement.
Note that this first notice does not have to be written. It is possible to give a verbal notice, however it should be made entirely clear to the tenant that if they fail to pay the rental arrear in the time specified that the tenancy will be terminated. It is in your best interest to document this in writing, so that any future proceedings can be backed up with evidence.
Walsh and Partners Solicitors LLP, Cork, Midleton and Dublin
Step 2: Failure to pay results in a Fourteen Day Notice (Warning)
In situations when a tenant has failed to pay their rent and where arrears are in place, a landlord should then serve the tenant with a notice in writing. This notice should include the details of arrears and the total sum of rent outstanding along with a fourteen day notice to pay in full.
Step Three: Terminating the Tenancy, Issuing a Twenty Eight Day Notice.
Step three comes into effect when the tenant does not act upon the fourteen day notice and does not pay the arrears within the time stipulated. The landlord can now move on to step three in the process and issue a twenty eight day notice for the termination of the tenancy.
If you are looking for assistance in resolving a tenancy dispute, your first port of call should be with the PRTB (Private Residential Tenancies Board.
If your tenant has failed to leave the premises in the timeframe stipulated, the PRTB can prioritise the case for attention. In the case that your own notices are past expiration, the PRTB provides an enforceable eviction order.
It is extremely important that you as landlord or anyone working on your behalf do not ever forceably remove your tenant, touch any of their property or disconnect utilities from the dwelling. This could result in an unlawful tenant termination ruling and the tenant could be awarded compensation.
It is vital that you follow the procedures set out in the Act as laid out above. The PRTB will not entertain any cases where the landlord has failed to comply with these steps. Seek legal advice to prepare all written notices, this will ensure that you are in full compliance at all times.
Prior to contacting the PRTB for assistance, you will need to gather the following information to avoid processing delays.
- Details of tenant as they were at the beginning of the tenancy. These include, name, address, PPS number, employment details, contact number, email etc. This information should all be gathered at the start of the tenancy.
- The tenancy must be legally registered. The PRTB refuses any case where the tenancy has not been registered.
- In a situation where your tenant is receiving social welfare assistance to pay their rent, but is failing to pass this money on to the landlord, you should immediately contact your local welfare office to ensure they are aware of the situation.
- Always keep records detailing rent receipts, agreements, communications, bank statements and any other documentation that will bolster your position.
Note, that whilst the PRTB may reach a decision in your favour, the circuit court will need to enforce this ruling in order for it to take effect. Until you reach this stage in the process, you have no option but to wait for the legal process to take its course. Do not ever take matters into your own hands as this can result in years of legal fees and a result that may not lean in your favour.