– Finding a decent place to live with housemates you don’t want to kill by the end of the year can be surprisingly difficult! Here, Anna Ryan from UCD shares her hard-earned wisdom in the field of house-hunting.
- Thou shalt choose your housemates wisely. It’s said that you never really know someone until you live with them. Very true. You’ll become intimately familiar with each other’s drinking habits, hygiene, music tastes etc. You and your best friend might become total hated enemies after living with each other for nine months, purely because one person is extremely clean and the other is not. Think long and hard before you move in with your girl/boy-friend or your best friend. If you are one person moving into a house with people already living in it, things become much more difficult. Talk to everyone in the house before you agree to rent the room. It really, really makes your college year a strain if you don’t get on with the people that you live with, so be very careful.
- Thou shalt ensure that you have a contract. You’re entitled to a contract, and make sure that you get one from your landlord. Equally important, make sure that you actually read the damn thing before you sign it. Your landlord must sign it too. There should be at least two copies- one for you and one for the landlord. Also, don’t sign a contract that you intend on breaking. If you sign a twelve month contract but intend on leaving after nine months, it may be difficult/impossible for you to get your deposit back.
- Thou shalt make sure that the landlord registers you with the PRTB. The landlord is obliged by law to register you with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). Amongst other things, these wonderful people help solve disputes between landlord and tenant(s). To check if your landlord has registered you, go onto prtb.ie and click on the ‘Is my tenancy registered?’ tab.
- Thou shalt look after your accomodation. Basically don’t do any of the following: jump on beds so that they break, take doors off hinges, break windows, etc. Lots of tenants complain about mould, and sometimes there’s nothing you can really do about it. However, for the most part, keeping the house ventilated will ensure it never shows up in the first place. Open the kitchen window when you’re cooking, keep your bedroom window open a little at night, open your bathroom window when you’re showering etc. If anything breaks down, you have to report it to the landlord, and do it as soon as possible. When you’re moving out, make sure your accomodation is at least reasonably clean.
- Respect your neighbours. House-parties are awesome! However, when your neighbours two-year old daughter hasn’t slept in a week because of constant parties, that’s just wrong. If you piss off your neighbours too much, they’ll complain to your landlord, who may evict you if you do it too much. And speaking of house-parties, throwing fire-works into a bin is just stupid. Terrible. Really awful….*cough*
- Respect your housemates. Pretty self-explanatory. Try and keep the house clean, don’t have a party the night before their final year exam, replace their food/alcohol if you take it.
- Communicate with your landlord. A little communication will go a long way. If you’re gonna be late with the rent, tell them before the due date, not two weeks after it. Tell them if something breaks. When you move into a place, I recommend taking photos of everything that’s broken/damaged/dirty, and date the photos. Get two copies, keep one for yourselves, and give the other to the landlord. Make him/her sign them. That way, when you move out, there’ll be no arguments over that spot of dirt above the fridge.
- Get a receipt when you give the landlord money. If you’re paying the landlord by cash, make sure that you get a receipt, and store it in a safe place.
- Know what to do if things go wrong. So it’s June, and the landlord is keeping your deposits for what you feel are un-fair reasons. If the landlord says it’s because of damage, ask to see the invoices of the contractors that were used to repair the damage. If you are registered with the PRTB, you can initiate a complaint with them against the landlord. Threshold are also good for getting advice on what to do. If the landlord has not registered you with the PRTB, tell them you will report them, and they could receive a fine for thousands of euro. If you paid your rent in cash and you aren’t registered with the PRTB, there’s a chance that your landlord *might* not be declaring their rental income to Revenue. Simply tell the landlord that you are going to give their details (you’ll need their full name and address) to Revenue and that you’ll report them to the PRTB if they don’t give you your deposit back. It’s dirty but it could work.
You can find more advice on renting at Threshold’s website here.
Best of luck!
Anna Ryan, UCD.
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