As East Corks foremost letting agent, these are the renting and letting FAQs that we encounter weekly if not daily!
I don’t like the idea of ‘blogging’ as such but what I do like is giving people useful information that they may not know a lot about, just as much as I like reading about or hearing useful information that I may not know a lot about. I have included a few frequently asked questions below that I hear on a weekly basis. They are questions that come from those already renting and the answers are in line with the RTB and also basic common sense, and you know what they say about that!
How often does my boiler need to be serviced in my rental property?
Every 12 months. You should be able to visibly see a sticker on your boiler that lets you know when your boiler was last serviced. It should be serviced by an RGI Registered plumber. If you are unable to see the sticker, you can ask your letting agent/landlord as to when it was last done and when it needs to be done again.
I hate the couch in my sitting room, can I change it?
You can ask your landlord/letting agent if you can have the couch removed and you can purchase another one, if your landlord agrees, you can take the couch with you if you decide to leave. If your landlord decides to replace it for you, then you will need to leave it where it is when leaving. A lot of landlords don’t have the facility to store furniture and so that is why they will not always agree to remove furniture, if you can understand that if you decide to leave, they may then have to replace the furniture all over again which is not ideal and not very cost effective but if you come to an amicable agreement, it is not always so complex.
I have mice in the house, do I need to pay for an exterminator?
Every landlord and tenant has a different opinion on this but we think that this one is the most fair. In this scenario, we ask the tenants to lay traps in behind skirting boards, in the attic, the back of presses, hot press, inside doors or anywhere you think the ‘visitors’ may be entering. If after some time the visitors have been caught but you still hear them, we then offer to have an exterminator called. If it is an infestation, the landlord/agent can discuss how long they have been there and what damage has been caused, this can sometimes tell how long they have been in the house. If it is longer than the tenancy, the landlord will need to make a contribution or even foot the bill completely. If the infestation shows evidence that they have been there a short period of time, the tenant will be responsible. More often than not, the tenant and the landlord will come to an agreement that suits both parties and leaves the property rodent free but this is where a letting agent comes in handy.
My heating is not working at all, what will I do?
Any tenant should not be without heating for any longer than 24 hours. Call your landlord/letting agents 24 hour line and let them know, they should have someone out to you asap.
I have a Fire Extinguisher somewhere in the house but I have no idea where it is. DO I need a Fire Blanket too?
Yes, you need at least a Fire Blanket and an up to date Fire Extinguisher at all times in the property and they should be mounted in a communal area where you can access them easily. It is important to service your fire extinguishers annually to adhere to legal standard. Extended fire extinguisher servicing should be carried out every 10 years. If you have an open fire, you are permitted under the RTB Law to have a Co2 alarm in every room that has an open fire. As a tenant, it is your duty to ensure all alarms are in working order and the batteries have not failed our device, there will be a ‘push’ button on the alarm to test it.
Who is responsible to pay for a chimney sweep?
Your landlord. This also should be carried out every 12 months to avoid any chimney fires or back draft.
I have a big garden, am I responsible for cutting the grass and maintaining the shrubbery etc?
If your landlord has supplied you with a lawnmower and all other garden utensils in order to maintain the outdoor areas, then yes, it is your duty. If they have not, it is the landlords responsibility. They will organise for someone to call and maintain the garden. The gardener would visit more in the Summer months than the winter as you would not have much growth throughout the later months of the year.
We do not have a tumble dryer, can we get one?
That depends. If you live in an apartment with no garden or outside sheltered area, you are entitled to a tumble dryer. Whereas, if you live in a house with a garden that has room for a line, you are not entitled to one.
There is a lot of dampness accumulating in certain rooms all of a sudden, what will I do?
Firstly, clean it away with sugar soap and water, this will eliminate any sort of damp molecules formulating in the air and effecting any small children’s little lungs and will also get rid of the awful mould. More often than not, mould appearing in certain rooms all of a sudden is caused by drying laundry on a line inside a house that is not aired properly. It is imperative that windows are opened frequently, curtains must be pulled every day to ensure air is circulated daily. If you are sure you are doing this, let your landlord/letting agent know and they can have a builder take a look bu remember, if it is caused by airing laundry, the builder will put it in his report and you as a tenant could be caught to foot the call out fee.
It can also be caused by poor ventilation meaning there is not enough ventilation points in the house, attic, bathrooms. There could be an issue with the roof tiles or insulation in the attic so if the issue keeps rearing its ugly head, it is something that needs to be looked at as it is not at all pleasant to live with. It is important to take photos of the effected areas before and after you clean so that you know what date it arrived for the second time. Time frames are imperative when it comes to dampness returning.
Can I get a dog, he will be very small and I will make sure they are house trained etc?
Again, it depends. It states on all of our leases that if you wish to get a dog, it is absolutely imperative that you request permission from your landlord/letting agent. Whilst the dog might be your pet, it can prove quite difficult to get rid of dog odour from the house after a tenant has left. They also chew skirting boards that are never replaced, especially new puppies and they also shed like their life depends on it. So in this case, we would recommend asking your landlord/letting agent permission, and offering a pet deposit of at least €250. This will cover a deep clean of a property at the very least and might make the idea a little more appealing for landlords. It goes without saying that the deposit is fully refundable providing the house is in good condition and is returned as it was let within reason.
There are scuffs on the walls in my property, I am moving out soon and I am afraid in case I don’t get my deposit back. What should I do?
Scuffs on the walls can be major or minor. A landlord should paint the property every 3 years no matter the cause. If after 1 year the property is scuffed and marked a lot, it really is not fair to ask for your full deposit back as the affected area will need to be painted as the next tenant will request for that to be done before they move in. If you are living in the property, let’s say, for over 3 years and the walls are dirty and scuffed from hand marks going up the stairs etc then the landlord has to understand as they would be painting it regardless. It is important to note that wear and tear and scuff marks are different to holes in walls and damage or distress to the wall or skirting etc, this is a completely different ball game and should be repaired by the tenant.
When a tenant moves into a property with Colbert and Co, we ask that they fill out a form that gives them space to comment on any areas in the property that might not be up to standard, we allow them to attach pictures of anything in the property that catches their eye. We ask the tenants to sign the form and return it to us within a week of moving into the property. This way, anything that is not coinciding with the pictures on move out day, is the tenants responsibility.
It is important to take photos of the property when you first move in so that you can have them on file for when you move out. Make a folder for your property alone and have all the emails, pictures, asset insurance etc on hand for whenever you need it. If any issues arise throughout your tenancy like a window being broken or locking your keys inside, keep all the invoices and receipts of works completed by the professionals you hired. Also keep note of any contractors sent by your landlord/letting agent just in case you need to fall back on it any stage.
As long as you keep the property maintained well, you should not have an issue with your landlord on move out day! That is the bottom line. Thats a-lot to take in but very important.
I feel like I need to take my argument legal as I am not being heard, where will I go to do this?
This is one I will need to take on myself as everyone has very different views on these difficult scenarios. This is an issue that is rampant at the moment and I personally (as a letting agent) have been caught in the crossfire more than once, but not more than twice (touches wood). It is very hard for a letting agent to be in the middle of a dispute between a landlord and a tenant. Yes, it is my job you may say but it doesn’t make it any easier. 90% of the time, we can sort an issue by hashing out the problem and talking about a solution but that 10% will fall through the cracks sometimes and that 10% is purely down to 3 things: panic, fear and poor time management.
Panic – The tenant panics that if they are not heard within a few days, they will never be heard. What they don’t understand is, a landlord may be seeking legal advice or even financial advice (due to financial pressures) as more often than not, In many cases the landlord cannot afford to pay out any extra money to a tenant or agree to leave them in their property for an extra 6 months, no matter how much they want to. They may have the banks breathing down their necks and selling is their only option. In this case they are not permitted to do so with a sitting tenant.
Fear – All the while, the tenant is fearing the worst and decides to lodge a case with the RTB. Just because the landlord took that little bit too long to come back to the agent, who is waiting to get back to the tenant. (Vicious circle)
The case has been lodged and now it is the landlord’s time to become fearful as cases very rarely go in landlords favour, no matter how obliging they have been to the tenant throughout the years. Remember their is no real winners in these cases.
Poor Time Management - This applies to everyone. The landlord took too long and the tenant jumped the gun.
It is so incredibly important that the lines of communication are left open throughout issues like this. As long as everyone is being fair and communication is always clear, cases with the RTB can be avoided. I understand that cases are not always so straight forward, that is a given and yes, there are cases that are just inhumanely unfair on one party and that is why letting agents are still so important, as a tenant, letting agents act as a spokesperson and will intervene when a tenant is being unfairly treated or their basic needs are not being met.
As a landlord, it is easy to collect rents and organise plumbers and electricians to call to the house at all hours of the evening. But when an issue like this arises,as letting agents you cannot beat the old tried and tested system of recording every contractor call and date, detailed emails between both parties, routine inspections every other month with notes photos uploaded to our records, we make sure a high quality of maintenance is adhered to and all regulations are met because at the end of the hard working day, when the RTB Mediator rings the emergency phone in order to ‘mediate’ between the landlord and the tenant, the letting agent will be there with their note pad and pen, and will have 3+ years of proof and documentation in front of them. All the while you can concentrate on the day to day issues in your life, like your job, and other stressful everyday events.
So, there you have it, a few basic informed answers to a few basic questions from a human point of view. The team at Colbert and Co are always attending up and coming events and seminars that might educate us that little bit more on Letting and Management and of course Sales. We understand how important it is to know the rights of both the landlord and the tenant and we promise to continue delivering that type of service to our client’s day in, day out.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog article, we hope it sheds some light and maybe even hope to your individual situation.
All the best.