Private landlords in Ireland have a legal duty to make sure your home meets minimum standards. Whether you live in an apartment or a house, your rented accommodation must be free from damp and be in a good state of structural repair – including the floors, ceilings, walls, furnishings, fittings, stairs and doors.

Your landlord must also make sure the electricity and gas supplies are safe, and that every room has adequate ventilation and heating you can control. Does your rental accommodation tick all these boxes?

Let’s take an example. Ciarán, a recent Arts graduate from Wexford, says he wishes he understood his tenant rights better. “I think I was just glad to have somewhere to stay, so I never really questioned the quality of the house”.

Ciarán, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons, rented a house with two friends for a year, while studying in Dublin. “It was your typical three-bed, semi-detached,” he says, “and it was near the bus stop which was handy for college. My mates took the two double rooms and I was stayed in the box room at the front.

“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst place in the world… But it was far from great. My room was always cold and damp. Parts of the wall had even turned black… whether it was damp or mould I’m not sure.”

“There was condensation on the window too, and the water would trickle down the windowsill towards my bed,” he says. “I just got on with things. It never really occurred to me to complain as I had never lived away from home before and wasn’t aware of my rights”.

The problems didn’t stop there for Ciarán. “Some of the doors on the kitchen cupboards were loose on their hinges, and at one stage, the oven stopped working. It took ages for the landlord to finally send someone out to fix it.”

Know your tenant rights

While Ciarán learned the hard way, you can avoid accommodation nightmares by getting to know your tenant rights.

As well as keeping the house well-ventilated and in proper structural repair, your landlord must provide you with access to:

  • A washing machine
  • A clothes-dryer (if the house does not have a private garden or yard)
  • A sink with hot and cold water
  • A permanently fixed heater in each bathroom or shower room
  • A smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm

They must also provide you with facilities for cooking and for the hygienic storage of food, including:

  • A four-ring hob with oven and grill
  • A cooker hood or extractor fan
  • A fridge and freezer
  • A microwave
  • Suitable kitchen cupboards for storing food

If you think your home does not comply with minimum standards, you should speak to your landlord. Put your complaint in writing and give them as many details as possible, including photographs, videos and any receipts for repairs.

If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs as required, you can report them to your local authority. Your local authority is responsible for inspecting and enforcing minimum standards regulations.

You should also read about your rights and obligations as a tenant, as well as how to deal with disputes between landlords and tenants on the Citizens Information website. It is better to be prepared with as much information as possible.

Need help figuring out your housing rights? Call the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm). Alternatively, request a callback by filling in this callback form  You can also contact your local Citizens Information Centre by phone or email.

Follow @citizensinfo on Twitter and @citizensinformation on Facebook for all the latest updates.

Citizens Information Services are funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board.