Whether it’s for personal reasons or down to problem tenants, chances are that at some point you are going to have to end a tenancy. While it may be inevitable, it isn’t always easy, and knowing the correct procedures will help you avoid any issues along the way. From appropriate grounds to suitable notice periods, in this guide we are going to cover everything you need to know about ending a tenancy.
Before we begin, it’s important to mention the updated legislation as a response to COVID-19. The Residential Tenancies Act 2020 was introduced in October, stating that tenants are not required to vacate their rental property during an Emergency Period (currently applicable until December 1). While you may still serve a notice of termination, the tenant is not required to move until the Emergency Period has expired plus an extra 10 day grace period. This information is constantly being updated, so keep up with the latest legislation changes you can check the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board) website here.
Grounds To End A Tenancy
If a tenant has lived in the property for more than 6 months, you must provide them with a reason as to why you are ending the tenancy. By law, it must be one of the following reasons.
The Tenant Has Breached Their Responsibilities
There are other ways that a tenant can breach their responsibilities. For example, if they will not allow an inspection or have failed to notify you about damage to the property.
Whether or not something can be considered a breach will depend on what was included in the tenancy agreement. While these general responsibilities will be outlined in most standard contracts, it’s important to be clear on exactly what the tenant has agreed to when they signed. For instance, if you failed to include anything about smoking in the contract, then you can’t go on to say that a tenant has breached their responsibilities by smoking in the property.
If you determine that the tenant has breached their responsibilities, you must notify them in writing and give them a reasonable timeframe to remedy the situation before you serve them with a notice of termination. There are no hard and fast rules about what is considered a reasonable timeframe, although 28 days is a good place to start.
The Tenant Has Not Paid Their Rent
This reason can only be given if you have issued the tenant and the RTB with a written rent arrears warning and given the tenant at least 28 days notice to pay what they owe. If they still haven’t paid up after the notice period has passed, then you can usually issue the tenant with a notice of termination.
However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, new procedures have been brought in that extend up to January 2021. For more information on this,head over to our blog post, ‘Know Your Rights: What To Do When A Tenant Stops Paying Rent’.
The Property Is Not Suited To The Tenant’s Needs
This reason usually applies when the property is no longer big enough for the tenants, for example if they have another family member move in with them or have more children. However this could also refer to accessibility or other issues. In the notice of termination you must give a statement as to why the property is not suited to the tenant’s needs and must also specify the number of bed spaces in the property.
You Require The Property For Personal Or Family Use
If you or a family member are going to move into the property you must provide a statutory declaration with your notice of termination. This absolutely must be given at the same time – serving it at a later date will invalidate it.
The statutory declaration needs to include the identity of the intended occupant, their relationship to you and the expected duration of the occupancy. If the property becomes available to rent again, then you are obliged to offer it back to the tenant as long as it happens within 12 months from the expiry of their notice period.
You Want To Sell The Property
This reason is applicable as long as you plan to sell the property within 9 months of the termination date. Again, you will need to provide a statutory declaration in this instance that confirms your intention to sell.
You Want To Carry Out Significant Refurbishment Of The Property
There are several criteria you have to provide if you want to use this reason as grounds to end a tenancy. In the notice of termination, you must state:
- If planning permission is required
- The name of the contractor if you are using one
- The proposed dates and duration of the work.
On top of this, you must also serve the notice along with a certificate in writing of a registered professional (within the meaning of the Building Control Act 2007). The certificate must state that:
- The proposed refurbishment or renovation would pose a threat to the health and safety of the tenants and should not proceed while the property is occupied
- The risk is likely to exist for the period specified in the certificate (this can’t be less than 3 weeks)
Please note that if you want to end a tenancy for this reason, the law requires you to offer the property back to the tenant once the work is completed.
The Use Of The Property Is Changing
Changing the use of the property, for instance from a residential to a commercial let, also requires a statement along with the notice of termination. It must include:
- The intended use of the property
- A copy of the planning permission, if applicable
- Details of the work to be carried out
- The name of the contractor, if applicable
- The proposed dates and duration of the work
Again, you will need to offer the property back to the tenant if it becomes available again within 12 months of the expiry of the notice period.
Once you are in a position to serve a notice of termination, it’s important to be clear on everything you need to include. Failing to provide all the correct information will invalidate the notice and could cause problems further down the line.
To be valid, it must:
- Be in writing
- Be signed by you or an authorised agent
- Give the date the notice is sent
- State the grounds for ending the tenancy, as outlined above
- Give the date by which the tenant must leave the property and state that the tenant has the full 24 hours to leave the property
- State that the tenant has 28 days from the date they receive the notice to refer the it to the RTB with any questions
You will also need to send a copy of the notice and a Notice Of Termination Return Form to the RTB. This must be done within one month of the tenancy termination date.
The notice that you need to give the tenant will depend on how long they have lived at the property. Here is a breakdown of those notice periods.
Duration Of Tenancy
Less than 6 months
More than 6 months but less than 1 year
More than 1 year but less than 2 years
More than 2 years but less than 4 years
More than 4 years but less than 8 years
More than 8 years
By law, the notice period begins the day after the tenant receives the notice of termination.
Returning The Deposit
Though you should allow time for an inspection, repairs and cleaning, it’s your duty to return the security deposit to your tenant promptly as it belongs to them by law (14 days is a good guideline). However, If there are rent arrears or damage beyond normal wear and tear, you may wish to withhold some or all of the deposit. Examples of these damages could be broken doors or windows, holes in the wall or leaving the property in an unsanitary or unsafe condition.
If a tenant believes that you are unfairly withholding the deposit, they can raise a dispute with the RTB who may arrange mediation or a hearing before an independent adjudicator. If the issue is still not resolved, the tenant can refer the case to a tenancy tribunal where damages can be awarded to their party up to €20,000. To avoid things getting to this stage, it’s important to be crystal clear about exactly what you can withhold a deposit for.
Ending a tenancy isn’t without its challenges, but fortunately most of the time it is fairly smooth and straightforward. If you do encounter any problems, you now have the knowledge to steer the process in the right direction and hopefully end things on a good note. However, if you would rather a third party manage this for you, we would be happy to help. To find out more about our letting and management services, get in touch using our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.