What is the correct way to end a tenancy?

Ending a tenancy is a normal part of a tenancy lifecycle and Landlords are entitled to do so. There is an important distinction between the normal rules for ending a tenancy lawfully and illegal evictions:

  • To terminate a tenancy lawfully, a landlord must serve a valid Notice of Termination. 
  • An unlawful termination, also known as an illegal eviction, may occur where a landlord, through force, intimidation or otherwise (such as cutting off utilities or changing the locks) denies a tenant from accessing a rented dwelling or removes their belongings. 

How to serve a valid Notice of Termination on a Tenant 

Following the introduction of The Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022, there is a ‘winter emergency period’ lasting from 30 October 2022 to 31 March 2023. Landlords can still serve a Notice of Termination during this period but the tenancy cannot end until after the winter emergency period where tenancies will end on deferrered termination dates. Please click here to read more

For all Notices of Termination to be deemed valid, they must be copied to the RTB at the same time as it is served on the tenant. Failure to do so means that the Notice of Termination is invalid. Landlords are asked to attach the Notice of Termination to a completed Notice of Termination return form to assist the RTB in linking the Notice to the relevant tenancy.

It can be emailed to NoticeofTermination@rtb.ie or posted to the Residential Tenancies Board, PO Box 47 Clonakilty, Co. Cork. 

If posting, the RTB recommends using certified post to ensure landlords have proof of the date the RTB was sent the copy of the Notice of Termination. These documents must be sent to the Residential Tenancies Board on the same day as the notice is served on the tenant. Landlords should retain copies and proof of postage for their records

Notice Periods

From 6 July 2022, when a landlord wishes to end a tenancy, there are new notice periods that the landlord must provide a tenant (outlined below). The new notice periods only apply to tenancies that are less than 3 years old. There has been no change to the notice periods for tenancies that are greater than 7 years old. The amount of notice required to end a tenancy depends on how long the tenant has lived in the property. The law sets out minimum notice periods which are different for a landlord and a tenant. The minimum requirement is 90-days for a tenancy that is less than 6 months in duration. Please note that “duration” refers to the total period of time in which a tenant has been living in the dwelling i.e. from the commencement date of the tenancy up to and including the date on which the Notice of Termination is served. 

  • Less than 6 months - 90 days
  • Not less than 6 months but less than one year- 152 days
  • Not less than 1 year but less than 7 years - 180 days
  • Not less than 7 years but less than 8 years - 196 days
  • Not less than 8 years - 224 days

These new notice periods do not apply where the Notice of Termination is served for a breach of tenant obligations or rent arrears . Landlords must still serve a warning notice and where the breach has not been remedied, can proceed to serve a 28-day Notice of Termination.  

Start of notice periods 

By law the notice period starts on the day immediately following the date of service of the Notice of Termination. The date of service, must be stated in the Notice of Termination, is the date the notice is posted, or hand delivered.  

Example: On Monday, 1 July, a landlord posts a Notice of Termination to the tenant giving 28 days notice that the tenancy is being terminated. 1 July is the date of service. The 28-day notice period, starts on Tuesday, 2 July.   

It is a good idea for landlords to give some extra days’ notice to tenants to make sure the minimum notice period required in the particular circumstance is covered. 

In order for a Notice of Termination to be valid, it must: 

  • Be copied to the RTB at the same time as it is served on the tenant.  
  • Be in writing (an email will not suffice).
  • Be signed by the landlord or their authorised agent, as appropriate. 
  • Specify the date of service. This is the date the notice is posted, or hand delivered. 
  • State the grounds for termination (where the tenancy has lasted for more than 6 months or is a fixed term tenancy). 
  • Specify the termination date and also that the tenant has the whole of the 24 hours of this date to vacate possession. 
  • State that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the RTB within the time period permitted.   
  • From 6 July 2022, there is a requirement for the landlord to send a copy of all Notices of Termination to the RTB on the same day as the notice is served on the tenant. The Notice of Termination will be deemed invalid if this requirement is not met.  

From 6 July 2022, if a tenant has an issue with the validity of the Notice of Termination they have received, a tenant now has 90-days (from the receipt of the notice) to apply for Dispute Resolution with the RTB. This was increased from 28-days.  

This does not apply to Notices of Termination served for breach of tenant obligations or rent arrears (click here for the 6-step process that must be followed when a landlord wants to end a tenancy because of rent arrears and the tenant has been renting the property for more than 6 months). Where a breach has occurred, the time period to apply for dispute resolution with the RTB is 28-days.  

Note: If you are submitting a Dispute Resolution application for rent arrears or are disputing the validity of a Notice of Termination, you must attach the Notice of Termination to your application. 

Statutory Declaration  

In some instances, a landlord is required to submit a Statutory Declaration with the Notice of Termination.  

Where a landlord intends to sell the property within 9 months of terminating the tenancy, a Statutory Declaration must accompany the Notice of Termination confirming this intention. 

Where a landlord requires the property for their own use or for use by a family member, a Statutory Declaration must accompany the Notice of Termination confirming the intended occupant's identity and (if not the landlord) their relationship to the landlord and the expected duration of the occupation. The Statutory Declaration must also confirm that the landlord is required to offer a tenancy to the tenant if the dwelling is vacated within a period of 12 months from the termination date.  

Sample Statutory Declarations accompany the Notices of Termination. A Statutory Declaration must take a specific format and must be signed in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths, Practising Solicitor, Notary Public, or Peace Commissioner. Please note that the Declarant must sign the Statutory Declaration themselves, it cannot be signed on their behalf by an authorised agent. 

Student Specific Accommodation

A provider of Student Specific Accommodation is required to serve a valid written Notice of Termination to end a tenancy agreement with a student tenant.  

Students have 90-days to refer a dispute to the RTB in relation to the validity of a Notice of Termination that has been served for a reason other than failure to pay rent or other breach of tenant / licensee obligation. 

Overholding

A tenant is overholding where they continue to occupy the property on a date after the expiry of the notice period specified in a valid Notice of Termination served by the landlord. In such a situation the tenant must continue to pay rent to the landlord and receipt by the landlord of that rent does not imply recognition of an ongoing tenancy. Where a landlord, either verbally or in writing, withdraws a Notice of Termination, the tenancy will then continue.

Regardless of the circumstances of a case, a RTB Adjudicator or Tribunal can only order a tenant to vacate a rented dwelling on the expiration of a valid Notice of Termination, which is fully in compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. 

Illegal Evictions

Serving a valid Notice of Termination ends a tenancy lawfully and lawful evictions are distinct from an unlawful termination or an illegal eviction. These occur where a landlord, through force, intimidation or otherwise (such as cutting off utilities, changing the locks etc) denies a tenant from accessing a rented dwelling or removes the tenant’s belongings from the dwellingAn unlawful termination of tenancy, also known as an illegal eviction, may occur where a landlord, through force, intimidation or otherwise (such as cutting off utilities, changing the locks etc) denies a tenant from accessing a rented dwelling or removes the tenant’s belongings from the dwelling.

The RTB takes illegal eviction very seriously as it can potentially leave a tenant homeless. Landlords are urged to seek recourse though the RTB rather than taking the law into their own hands.  A landlord found by the RTB to have carried out an unlawful termination may be directed to allow the tenant re-entry into the dwelling and/ or required to pay substantial damages to the tenant depending on the circumstances of the case. Decision makers have discretion to award up to and including €20,000 in damages.

If the tenant does not vacate upon the expiration of a valid Notice of Termination, then a dispute resolution application can be submitted to the RTB. 

Notice of Termination Return Form