Most people agree recording an agreement in writing at the outset of an arrangement is pragmatic. The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (“the Act”) requires landlords and tenants to have a written tenancy agreement. If a written agreement does not exist a verbal agreement may be agreed by the parties, or failing that the Act sets out minimum rights and responsibilities of a landlord and tenant.
Tenancy agreements can be for a fixed period or an indefinite period of time (a periodic tenancy). Tenancy agreements most commonly allow a family the exclusive use of an entire house, however, boarding house tenancies grant an individual or couple the exclusive right to sleep in specific room of a house for a period greater than 28 days and record the services provided by a landlord to a boarder, i.e. internet access, meals, washing etc.
A tenancy can end by mutual agreement between a tenant and landlord at any time, however, agreements also end because of unforeseen circumstances, a breach of the tenancy agreement, or breakdown in the relationship between landlord and tenant.
If a tenant wishes to end a periodic tenancy they can write to the landlord and end the tenancy on 21 days notice, or shorter period if the landlord agrees. A fixed period tenancy cannot be terminated by a tenant, although it can end by agreement with the landlord or an assignment of the tenancy to another person (with the landlords consent).
Any notice to end a tenancy should include the address of the property the tenant wants to vacate, the date they want to move out, and be signed. As the Act was written in 1986 it does not allow for email notification, however, those are widely accepted by landlords these days.
In most cases a landlord will not be able to terminate a tenancy with less than 90 days notice in writing. A landlord can provide a tenant with notice to vacate a property in 42 days if they are selling the property and the purchaser does not want tenants living in the property, the landlord or a member of the landlords family are going to live in the property, or the property is normally used for employee accommodation and is needed for that purpose again.
If a tenancy relationship breaks down, or a dispute about the terms of a tenancy arise the matter can be referred to the tenancy tribunal where parties normally represent themselves. Each party may have support people, evidence and witnesses to present to an adjudicator who will make a possession, monetary, or work order recorded in a “Tribunal Order”.
Residential tenancy issues are administered by the Department of Building and Housing. Their website is a useful resource to obtain standard tenancy agreements, tenancy tribunal forms, and general advice about tenancy relationships. If you have unanswered questions about your situation contact your local solicitor to discuss.