Top tips for preventing disputes

Before beginning a tenancy there are certain steps that should be taken to ensure a successful tenancy for both parties.

Before a tenancy begins, a landlord and tenant should check and agree the following:

  • The suitability of the accommodation, ensuring it meets minimum standards.
  • The deposit should be agreed and a receipt provided to both the landlord and tenant. The RTB recommend that a deposit equivalent to no more than one month’s rent be paid. Agree that the tenancy begins when the deposit is handed over and the keys are handed over. If a deposit is exchanged but the tenancy does not begin for a number of days and a difficulty arises then as a tenancy has not yet commenced, this is outside of the jurisdiction of the RTB.
  • If a tenancy agreement/lease is being provided, the content should be explained and it should set out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant and capture detail which is not covered by the law such as if pets are permitted, if the tenancy is for a fixed term and if so how long, or who is responsible for maintaining the garden, etc. Copies of the agreement should be kept by both.
  • An inventory of the contents and conditions of all the items in the property should be created. This should be signed by both landlord and tenant. Every plumbing fixture, light switch, cupboard door, and appliance should be checked to make sure they work properly. If repairs are necessary, agreement should be reached on when the they will be completed (the RTB would recommend repairs be completed without delay).
  • Ensure contact details are exchanged in case of urgent repairs. It is important to get the contact details for both the landlord and the contact details for any agent the landlord has engaged.
  • Take photos or a video of the property before the tenant moves in.
  • Show new tenants around the property and make sure they know how the appliances work and are familiar with the arrangements for disposing of the household and garden rubbish.
  • Provide a rent book for the tenant and make sure that all payments are recorded in it, whether rent or other charges, if there is no written lease.
  • The RTB recommends a review every three months, ask the tenant if everything is satisfactory and if so, have them to sign and date a statement confirming this.
  • If a tenant reports a problem, and unless they damaged the goods, deal with it as soon as possible and give them regular updates about the efforts that are being made to resolve it.
  • If there is a problem, make sure to notify the landlord or tenant immediately and be open and honest in all your dealings.
  • Keep copies of any correspondence and make notes of conversations about any problems. The landlord should keep a copy of any repair request and note when and how the problem was repaired.
  • If a problem does arise, discuss it promptly. Keep lines of communication open, listen and be respectful to each other’s requirements.  Make any requests in writing and keep records.

Landlords should:

  • Check prospective tenants’ references before renting out the accommodation.
  • Check the dispute outcomes section of the RTB website to see if the tenant has been involved in previous disputes before renting out the accommodation. Read more here

 

Tenants should:

  • Check the dispute outcomes section of the RTB website to see if the landlord has been involved in previous disputes before renting out the accommodation. Read more here

If an issue arises, efforts should be made to resolve informally.