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We're known for being a no-nonsense management company that represents landlords, big and small and we put your best interest first. We have years of experience of managing property across Dublin City and County and elsewhere, so whether you want lettings only, full management, or one of our virtual landlord options, we're happy to help. We specialise in property management and lettings of residential and commercial buildings, from modern complexes to beautiful period houses.

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The forum on www.IrishLandlord.com is an excellent source of information. We recommend signing up and trying it out.

The Irish property owners association www.ipoa.ie
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Also try this free guide www.lawyer.ie
Tenants get free advice from Threshold, no questions asked www.Threshold.ie
Search for past cases on the PRTB site www.PRTB.ie
View the full residential tenancies legislation www.irishstatutebook.ie
Residential Landlords Association of Ireland www.rlai.ie
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27 great landlord resources on Twitter
http://byemould.com/2015/09/06/27-great-landlord-resources-on-twitter

More
http://byemould.com/2016/02/12/landlord-tenant-resources-list-resources-irish-landlords-tenants


Noise Complaints

12 August 2014

When we get complaints about noisy tenants the first thing we do is send a letter to them saying we've had a complaint and that we take complaints seriously etc. We don't identify who made the complaint.

As always, rule number one is to imagine how one would rationalise the case to a PRTB adjudicator. We ask complainants to record the noise the next time it happens, for example an audio or video recording on a mobile phone. We can also rely on multiple neighbour complaints (at least three neighbours) but the vast majority of people would be able to get some sort of audio or video recording on a mobile phone. Even if we had three neighbours complaining about the noise, if it was really that bad they would be able to record something to prove it.

When we have concrete evidence we send another warning to the tenant saying we will evict them if it happens again.

We take into account the frequency and severity of the noise before sending any eviction notice. For example a couple having an argument every few months is usually just a healthy marriage. Shouting arguments are unpleasant to hear but it's not as bad as loud music from a party. Only a recording could tell how severe noise was.

If it does happen again (third time) within a close period of time, and we get the same recordings from the complainants, we then send them an eviction notice using the appropriate wording set in legislation.


Higher Deposits

23 July 2014

I think all landlords are familiar with the phenomenon of tenants leaving an apartment and not paying the last month's rent. So, you keep the deposit but there's nothing left over for damages and cleaning. Or a tenant leaves owing more than a month's rent (and damages and cleaning). The legislation/PRTB works against landlords in these instances by protecting bad tenant in their apartments.

In 2012 we started asking for a deposit equal to one and a quarter month's rent.

We didn't know of anyone else doing it so we risked loosing potential tenants because of the increased cost to them. The thinking behind it was that it was only a small increase, but would give more protection.



We noticed that almost nobody questioned it and we don't know of any cases where it was a reason not to take an apartment with us.


We didn't notice any problem renting apartments and our deposits held are up by a quarter.



The greatest benefit of the increase is that instead of having tenants casually use their deposit as a last month's rent, tenants have more to protect and don't risk losing the extra quarter.



In 2013 we increased the deposit asked of new applicant tenants to one and a half month's rent and we took some statistics.


Under 12% of people even questioned the increase.


None of these had a negative response and only one person in 2013 said the deposit was too high for them to take the apartment (we manage over 200 apartments in Dublin city).



We've worked in property management since 1987 and have never seen such tenant compliance since introducing this.

It's a long way from fully covering the incompetence of the PRTB but has had a huge affect on the smooth turnover of tenants.

I understand it's a landlords market at the time of writing this post, and people are willing to pay extra for now but it would benefit the whole industry if it became the normal in Ireland for landlords to ask for more than one month rent. I believe the industry is so risky at the moment because of the legislation / PRTB that the market should adjust by asking for extra security. If it did became the industry norm it would not be a barrier to any landlords.




Dealing with Arrears

25 June 2014

  1. It is a common phenomenon for a tenant in arrears to suddenly report problems. Tenants in arrears will find problems that they should have reported a long time ago to use as a distraction from their rent arrears. The worst type of tenant will even invent problems.
  2. It is common for tenants in financial trouble to become more aggressive and to avoid contact.
  3. It is not a landlord’s responsibility to pay for someone else's lifestyle or circumstances. Please see the post on rent increases.

What to do when tenants are in arrears and ignore your contact
  1. Stop trying to contact them and just follow the law. Irish legislation / PRTB is so disgracefully poor that landlords are always at severe risk of being ripped off by the worst type of tenant. Don't wait to begin the process, this plays into the hands of the worst type of tenant. Unfortunately for good tenants and good landlords, Irish legislation enables the worst type of tenant to steal from landlords, with the knock-on affect of driving rents up for everyone else. A good tenant will never ignore your contact (assuming you are a good landlord).
  2. The minute a tenant is late on their rent, begin the proper process. Give the initial reasonable warning (we send an email saying they have 1 business day to clear the arrears). This part has been designed to catch out landlords and unreasonably protect tenants. It's not publicised very well and without this initial notice, any further notices are invalid.
  3. After the initial notice give the second notice, a 14 day notice to clear the arrears. There is no formal template available from the PRTB or Threshold so get one from a landlord association like the IPOA. This is where a management company comes in handy. Make sure to hand deliver this notice.
  4. After the 1 business day and the 14 day notice, Irish legislation requires that landlords bear the cost of a further 28 days notice for a tenant to move out. Please see my previous post on taking a deposit equal to 2 month's rent. Make sure to use the precise wording and hand deliver this notice.
  5. Begin a PRTB dispute. Unfortunately if the tenant has ignored the notices the PRTB is such a disgrace that you could be waiting over a year for a proper eviction. See the article about a tenant being given another 28 days after over-holding for 1 year (Irish Times 21st Jan 2014): http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime...ties-1.1663351
  6. Be careful who you vote for!

Most landlords in Ireland these days are ordinary Irish people. They could be your neighbour or a relative and by the time the worst type of tenant moves out, the landlord could have defaulted on their mortgage and lost their investment etc. The irony is that the legislation protects tenants but can put landlords at risk of going homeless.


How to expense repairs to tenants when you believe they caused the damage

12 May 2014
  1. Always picture how you would justify this to a PRTB adjudicator. See my previous post on deposit retentions.
  2. Try to get photos of the damage or ask the tenant to send them. The PRTB pay most attention to photos.
  3. Get a 3rd party contractor to inspect and do the work so they can act as an independent opinion. Only use 3rd party contractors that are good enough to offer an educated and decisive opinion. If you're doing the work yourself get someone independent to inspect with you (this is where a management company comes in handy). Don’t use a contractor that won’t give a decision.
  4. Get an invoice (or quote) and a written explanation from the contractor explaining that, in their experience the damage was caused by the tenant (if it really was caused by the tenant).
  5. Email the tenant and ask them how the damage happened. This can sometimes resign the tenant to accepting the expense or once in a while they can give a reasonable response.
  6. Do not be worried if a tenant starts to threaten! It's a common response when a bad tenant has been caught out. Just be sure of your facts and refer to step 1.
  7. When deciding on an amount to retain, you can only bill for the replacement of like-for-like and maybe a small bit extra if you are forced to upgrade. For example if a tenant has left an iron burn in the carpet of a small bedroom, it's not reasonable for the landlord to put up with a small square cut out and replaced so we will usually change the whole carpet. It is also not reasonable for the tenant to pay for the full carpet since the landlord is getting an upgrade to the rest of the room. We bill the tenant for the cost of a small section of the replacement carpet, the callout and a small bit extra for forcing us to pay for the upgrade of the rest of the carpet.
  8. Check online sources of information for advice. You can also call Threshold and pretend to be a tenant for free advice. Beware because you're getting opinions only and you still need to make the final decision.


Rent Increase

6 February 2014

We can't stress enough how important it is to always bill tenants the current market rate (or very close to it just to stay competitive).

Remember you can only increase rent once in any 12 month period. A new lease is not needed to increase the rent.

  1. There is no good way to tell tenants they're getting a rent increase, so just do it in a simple two line letter. Give 1 calender month notice (since they pay by calendar month).
    "Dear Tenants"
    "Please be advised that beginning 1st [Month] 20[Year] your new rent will be €[Amount] in line with increases in the market."
    "Please arrange to amend any standing orders using the attached form or contact us for help on (01) [Phone number]."
  2. Always picture how you would rationalise an increase to a PRTB adjudicator.
  3. Attach 3 to 4 printouts from property websites of similar properties that you are using as your comparisons. Make sure they're reasonable.
  4. Both, hand deliver and email the letter to the tenants. Deliver the notice a few days early to be safe.
  5. Once you've reasonably established the current market rate (and justify it with comparisons), don't negotiate down. Why should a landlord take a reduced income when the market says otherwise. Tenants will never pay above market rate, why should a landlord accept a reduced rate. Sometimes accept a nominal reduction (maybe €25) as a negotiating tactic.
  6. Please note the following: It is unprofessional to expect a tenant to feel that they owe a landlord anything for giving them a reduced rent. Tenants do not see a reduced rent as a gesture of good will, they soon see it as their right. Billing below the market rate does not get a landlord kudos, tenants begin to expect special treatment. You will not gain loyalty from a tenant because of a reduced rent. The Irish market is severely stacked against landlords so don't expect any favours. A fool and his money are soon parted.
  7. Take the opportunity to inspect the apartment and do any repairs or upgrades that the landlord is rightfully responsible for, even if the tenant hasn't reported them. This will help your case if it goes before the PRTB and is in the landlords best interest. Also write to the tenant to carry out any repairs they are responsible for in accordance with the lease.
  8. Watch that the increased rent comes in on time. If the tenant does not pay the increase on the due date, begin the usual PRTB process immediately (send the initial informal email when it is one day late. We give 24 hours to pay). This is where a management company comes in handy.
  9. If the tenant threatens to move out, stay professional and friendly. Blame the market since it is the market that decides rents. When they go to search for a new place they will see for themselves what the market rate is.
  10. If they do choose to move on, just remember that your new tenant will be paying the new higher rate. Remember to take a deposit equal to one and a half month's rent. See our other posts.
  11. Don't be afraid of change!

Deposits

28 January 2014

First and most importantly, do you have photos of your properties before your tenants moved in? If not you should have, to act as a starting reference. You can't prove much without these and the PRTB pay most attention to photos. Take photos and attach them to the lease when it's being signed, have the tenants initial them (along with each page of the lease) and give them a copy.

Secondly did you ask your tenants to send you a snag list of their apartment when they moved in? In our leases we ask all tenants to alert us of any and all snags, whether they want us to repair them or not. We emphasise this when they sign the lease. We tell tenants to treat it in the same way as when they hire a car. This is something that will stand to you in a dispute and will usually end an argument before it starts. If they don't send this, it can be argued that their premises was in good condition and everything working.

Here are the steps to retaining a deposit when you think a tenant might complain (if you're retaining a large amount they probably will). This is one of the most contentious parts of property management so read carefully:

  1. Always picture how you would rationalise a deposit retention to a PRTB adjudicator.
  2. Only contact tenants by email, not phone, so you have a record of your attempts to resolve the situation and a record of any abuse they might give you.
  3. Gather your 'before' evidence, the photos attached to the lease or snag list. Possibly you have a 3rd party contractor that worked in the premises before they moved in that can act as a witness.
  4. Get photos of any damage. This is critical. If you can, have the camera time stamp them or even better get a 3rd party contractor to do it so he can verify the date they were taken.
  5. Get a 3rd party contractor to inspect and do the work so they can act as an independent opinion. Only use 3rd party contractors that are good enough to offer an educated and decisive opinion. If you're doing the work yourself get someone independent to inspect with you (this is where a management company comes in handy).
  6. Get an invoice (or quote) and a written explanation from the contractor explaining that, in their experience the damage was caused by the tenant (if it really was caused by the tenant).
  7. Email the photos to the tenant and ask them how the damage happened. This can sometimes resign the tenant to accepting the expense or once in a while they can give a reasonable response.
  8. Do not be worried if a tenant starts to threaten! It's a common response when a bad tenant has been caught out. Just be sure of your facts and refer to step 1.
  9. Email the tenant to ask for their bank details for the return of the deposit. They'll get these to you fast. Be sure you don't miss any expenses, don't miss your opportunity to cover the damage because we all know the PRTB process is a disgraceful waste of time.
  10. When deciding on an amount to retain, you can only bill for the replacement of like-for-like and maybe a small bit extra if you are forced to upgrade. For example if a tenant has left an iron burn in the carpet of a small bedroom, it's not reasonable for the landlord to put up with a small square cut out and replaced so we will usually change the whole carpet. It is also not reasonable for the tenant to pay for the full carpet since the landlord is getting an upgrade to the rest of the room. We bill the tenant for the cost of a small section of the replacement carpet, the callout and a small bit extra for forcing us to pay for the upgrade of the rest of the carpet.
  11. Check sources of information like this forum for advice. You can also call Threshold and pretend to be a tenant for free advice. Beware because you're getting opinions only and you still need to make the final decision.
  12. Refund the balance deposit fast! The tenant is responsible for paying for damages and you are responsible for returning the deposit. We set ourselves a target of returning a deposit within 7 days if we're keeping some for damages and asap if we've genuinely had a good tenant.
  13. Refund the deposit by electronic transfer (anyone that uses cash or cheques these days is wasting their time). This'll give you a record of the refund.
  14. Often a tenant that is about to loose some of their deposit will keep pestering and threatening with solicitors and Threshold and PRTB. Once you're sure the damage was caused by the tenant and you have all the evidence you need, stop replying to rude emails and stay professional by returning the balance of the deposit fast.
  15. Do not lose your temper or get dragged into a hot-headed argument but instead present the case to them (all by email so you have a record) as you would to a PRTB adjudicator. As soon as they get advice from anyone reasonable they will be talked out of going further. Use the line 'Unfortunately I can't change the rules because of a threat of PRTB but I would encourage you to get advice'.
  16. Let the tenant do the work from then on.