Your Legal Rights

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Starting college or university is for most students a pivotal point in their lives, marking a transition from childhood into adulthood. It is a time when you grow in independence and maturity – both in your academic and personal lives. The skills you gain from your third level experience can be taken with you into all areas of your life in the future. This new-found freedom and independence can for many students, especially those living away from home, bring with it an element of fear. Managing your money, cooking your meals, keeping up with your studies and renting accommodation for the first time in a new place can be quite a daunting prospect.

One of the most important and initial decisions you will have to make is where you are going to live. Though there are many options available some are not always suited to everyone and sometimes things can go wrong. Nobody wants to be ripped off or treated unfairly by their landlord and there are laws in place to make sure you don’t get scammed. That’s why it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re clued-up on all your rights and options so that you can make informed decisions that work for you.

If the thought of cooking all your meals sends you into a cold sweat and hankering after mammy’s Sunday roasts then maybe getting digs would be a better option for you than renting. Digs provide you with a room in a house with a family who cooks for you usually during the week only, so if you don’t like the idea of cooking for yourself or you are planning on going home most weekends anyway, digs could work for you.

Universities and colleges do offer some on-campus and off-campus accommodation in purpose-built establishments but it is usually in high demand with limited places. Renting is the most common option – whether it is a flat, bedsit or house you are renting. It can be very expensive to rent by yourself – especially on a student’s allowance – so it is likely that you will end up renting in a house-share or flat-share situation. It is usually better to live with people you already know and trust, but sometimes this isn’t always possible. Renting means that a basic standard must be met and there are several rights that you have and need to assert, but which vary depending on the kind of rent scheme you fall into – private renting or renting a room in the house where the landlord also lives (this is called ‘rent a room’ scheme).

Private Renting

By law, your landlord has certain obligations that he must fulfil with regards to your tenancy and the standard of accommodation provided to you. It is a legal requirement to have a Tenant/Landlord Agreement (sometimes called a Rent Book) which should cover all of these obligations. It is your responsibility to check this agreement thoroughly before signing it and make sure everything you think should be mentioned in it is covered.


The following information should always be found in this agreement:

The address of the rented dwelling,

The name and address of the landlord and his agent

The name of the tenant

The terms of the tenancy

The amount of rent, when and how it is to be paid, (e. g. cash, cheque, standing order)

Details of other payments (e. g. , telephone, TV)

The amount and purpose of any deposit paid and the conditions under which it will be returned to the tenant

A statement of information on basic rights and duties of landlords and tenants

It should also address your rights to privacy – your landlord is not allowed to enter the property without your permission except in the case of an emergency. You are also entitled to at least one month’s notice if you are asked to leave and you should be told a valid reason for your eviction. The official period of notice depends on how long you have rented the property: 28 days for a tenancy of less than 6 months, 35 days for a tenancy of 6 months to a year, 42 days for a tenancy of 1-2 years. Your agreement should also outline that you are allowed to have overnight visitors and are only obliged to inform your landlord if someone moves in on a more permanent basis. Your landlord must, by law, ensure that your home complies with certain minimum standards (e. g. free from damp, in good structural repair, hot and cold running water, adequate means of heating and ventilation, appliances in good working order, electrical wiring, gas, and pipes in good repair). The landlord is obliged to carry out repairs except where damage beyond normal wear and tear has been caused by the tenant.

The Tenant/Landlord Agreement also outlines your duties and obligations as a tenant in order to be in a position to assert your legal rights. This includes paying your rent on time, keeping the place tidy, behaving in a quiet and respectful manner and not damaging the property or its contents. If you decide to leave the property you need to give at least one month’s notice to your landlord and you are obliged to give your notice in writing. Failure to submit written notice to your landlord can result in you losing your deposit.

‘Rent A Room’ Scheme

If you rent a room in your landlord’s house your tenant rights differ and are somewhat more limited. You must agree your terms of tenancy before moving in – e. g. , amount of rent, overnight guest rules, housekeeping and cleaning rules, and notice periods for example. It is worth your while drawing up a written agreement between you and your landlord. Do not sign the agreement until you are completely satisfied with what it says and what it includes. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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