A free a Rent-a-Room Tenancy Agreement Template

In this post I am offering a free a Rent-a-Room Tenancy Agreement Template for Ireland that I use. You can download it, edit it and use for your own rent-a-room tenancies.

The main things you need to know about rent-a-room tenancy agreements are:

  • Under the Rent-a-Room scheme, this type of tenancy agreement is called a Licensee Agreement.
  • Rent-a-Room tenancies do not fall under the regulation of the RTB or the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.
  • These Licensee Agreements are not a legal requirement but are highly recommended to give the landlord and tenant a clearly outlined understanding of the tenancy that is referred to in the event of any dispute.

Put it in Writing Using a Tenancy Agreement Template

The general advice is “put everything in writing”. Rent-a-Room tenancies involve the landlord renting out rooms in their private principal residence, i.e. in the same house where the landlord is currently living. 

Disputes and disagreements can arise. As a result, it is a good idea to outline every aspect of the tenancy in writing. The reason for this is it actually makes tenancies smoother. Rather than either party having silent expectations about aspects of living with each other, everything is in writing. This offers both the tenant and the landlord a frame of reference if (and when) disputes arise. 

Here is a list of some details you will want to get down on paper:

1. Dates

This one might seem obvious but you should specify the start date, end date and duration of the tenancy. The end date is important because it will set down in writing when the tenant should either be seeking new accommodation or when you will be reviewing your agreement.

2. Details about the security deposit paid

Define how much the security deposit is, how and when it will be paid. I normally take €300 as a security deposit but the standard is one month’s rent. I also get the tenant to sign a page that states the date and amount of the security deposit paid.

I am considering increasing the security deposit to be inline with the rent due to one tenant forgetting how much he had paid as a deposit when he moved in and assuming that it was more. Fortunately, I was able to WhatsApp him a photo of the signed page

Its also a good idea to stipulate how and when the security deposit will be paid back. From a tenant perspective, they might need it ASAP to use as security for their next tenancy. From a landlords perspective, they need to fully inspect the room after the moveout has occurred. I generally do an inspection of the room the day the tenant moves out and then WhatsApp them a screenshot my banking app that shows I have transferred the funds to their account. I have never had a case where I thought I needed to hang onto part of the security deposit due to damage.

3. How and when rent will be paid

It is always good to be clear about this because it is the corner stone of the agreement. You are providing accommodation; the tenant is paying for that accommodation. If the tenant booked a hotel, the hotel would expect payment on their terms. So set a date. I ask for rent on 1st of the month for that month. I prefer take rent payments by electronic fund transfer (EFT). The advantages are:

  • Normally tenant have been paid just before this date
  • Direct debit means there is a digital record automatically generated for rent payments

So when you specify when you want the rent, you will also give your tenant bank details so they can set up. Another piece of advice is don’t be afraid to nudge them if the payment is not on time. That is clearly their obligation under the agreement.

In my own experience, I have had to text one tenant on three occasions to pay the rent. He kept forgetting to set up the direct debit but once he got that sorted I never had a problem again. In each case he apologised, thanked me for the reminder and paid immediately.

As an aside, on two occasions a tenant asked for extra time to pay the rent. I said ok and after a week the rent was paid. There were no problems but I was prepared to ask for the rent if it went beyond the agreed extension.

4. Paying for Utility Bills

Personally I don’t bother with this. In my agreements, I specify that they utilities are included in the rent. For me, this includes gas, electricity, wi-fi and bins (including the service charge). Some people say that this very generous but honestly, I don’t want the hassle of getting €14.86 from two people every month.

I do have a clause to state that if someone is abusing this and the bills are unacceptably high, they will be asked to chip in.

One weird thing that has annoyed me in the past is how few of the tenants I’ve had over the years buy consumables like toilet roll. Once, I actually stopped buying it till the stock ran out (I had stashed some for myself) and it was a FULL WEEK before one of them bought some. A WEEK! Wtf? What were they doing?!

5. A copy of an ID document and emergency contact numbers

Yep. I ask for this and I also offer it. Why? I have been a tenant in the past and it’s kind of scary handing over a load of cash when there is potentially no come back. People get screwed over by scammers all the time. I like to make my tenants feel like I am a legitimate landlord so I provide them with a copy of my ID and a contact number for a family member. I do this before I ask them for their details to balance the playing field. I keep a digital copy on my computer and I delete it once they move out.

The emergency contact for both of you is just common sense. Many of my tenants have been foreign and some with no family here in Ireland so having this is a reassurance for them and me should an emergency occur.

6. A Statement About Contents Insurance

In general, your rent-a-room tenant is not covered by your house insurance policy. This applies to their contents. It’s easy for them to assume that they are covered and in the past one tenant sought to make a claim on my insurance because he dropped his own TV. I tell them; if they want cover, they have to provide it themselves.

7. Details of the tenant’s and landlord’s obligations and responsibilities

This is the bog-standard house rules stuff that you expect like cleaning shared areas, taking out the bins, keeping the TV volume low after 10pm, etc. However, it also includes social behaviour, respect for other tenants and potential breaches of the agreement that can lead to terminations. For me, smoking is a red flag. If anyone smokes in the house they will be asked to leave.

8. A Guest Policy

Ah, guests. This one gets tricky sometimes. You don’t want to be that landlord who outright says no to ever having guests stay over but sometimes… you want to be exactly that landlord. I cannot recommend this enough – have a guest policy.

When tenants move into my house, on the viewing, I discuss this upfront. Usually, during a viewing, a tenant might mention if they have a significant other. I make them clear on the fact that the room they are renting is for one person and one person only. Guests are allowed to stay over for one night in any seven-night period once everyone in the house knows about it, but anything more than one night a week has to be agreed with everyone in the house.

So, two examples from my experience;

First, there was a dispute when Tenant 1 invited a friend to stay over for the night. This upset tenant 2 because, from their perspective, there was “a stranger in the house”. Tenant 1 had followed the agreement to the letter and had informed everyone else in the household that he would have a friend stay in his room for the night. I referred Tenant 2 to the conditions in the agreement. In other words, I pointed out that tenant 2 also had the right to invite a guest to stay. Problem solved.

Second, this one was my fault really. Another tenant a year later had a girlfriend and he asked if it was ok if she stayed over at the weekends. At this point, we had all been living together for a while and were comfortable with each other. I had met his girlfriend a few times. However, it quickly became apparent that “weekends” meant Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. This meant that the girlfriend was living with us more nights that she was living in her own place. I stepped in quickly and they agreed to limit it to Friday and Saturday nights. In this case also, both the tenant and the girlfriend were very nice and extremely quite so I didn’t mind so much.

I will say it again though, a guest policy is a great foundation to have written into the agreement from the start. If it’s fair and reasonable, it can be a good reset button to push if someone is breaking the rules too much.

9. A date and process for reviewing the contents of the agreement

A year has passed and maybe you want to use it as a point to have a review with your tenant. Make it a two-way conversation about your own obligations, how you have fulfilled them and then discuss the tenant’s obligations. If you need to clarify anything in the agreement, assuming you are renewing it), now is your chance to make changes.

10. A dumping clause

Because you left all you shit behind you! After a few tenancies, I added a clause to my Tenancy Agreement Template that deals specifically with people’s belongings. For example, one of my tenants moved out and left a large amount of “stuff” behind him in the attic and shed. 

In this case, I made three requests by text-message for the tenant to remove the items. He got pissed off and told me to “keep it”, indicating that he had no intention of coming back to collect his belongings. I had to spend a full morning collecting and dumping the stuff.

As a result, it cost me time and effort to dispose of the items. From my perspective, I was reasonable in my attempts to get him to collect his belongings. After some time, I had little choice but to dispose of it but I wondered about the legality of this – how long does a landlord have to wait after someone moves out to dispose of belongings left behind? I suppose the answer is; once the tenancy is over you can clear the room. You are renting out accommodation, not a storage unit.

I tried to find some clarification on this issue from a legal perspective but couldn’t find anything for this specific instance. As a result, the “take your shit with you” condition is in the agreement from the start.

The benefits of a Rent-a-Room Tenancy Agreement Template

To date, I have had five different tenants under the rent-a-room scheme and all of them expressed that they were happy with this agreement. Some even said they had never received any contract/agreement it in previous tenancies. So tenants like it. 

It has also come in handy to resolve disputes and clarify policies. The really good thing about the agreement is that, as you tenants move on, you can update it to address any issues as you progress. I would call myself a “newbie” landlord and nothing can teach you like experience can.

Download A Free Rent-a-Room Tenancy Agreement Template

Here is the Tenancy Agreement Template I am currently using. Download it, change it to suit your needs, print two copies.

Above all, both parties read, agree to and sign both copies and each one keeps a copy.

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