In this essay, I shall discuss the nature of the Landlord and Tenant relationship in Ireland. I will examine the aspects of a Lease from both sides of the relationship and cover the rights of the landlord and tenant under the relevant legislation. In my final chapter I will evaluate how the personal relationship between the landlord and tenant has evolved thought out time with the passing of legislation. Leases have always been a popular way to regulate the relationship between a landlord and tenant over the rights of land. Whether it be families looking for a long term stay or students searching for accommodation for nine months of the year. “Leases are landholding arrangements in which the tenant receives a proprietary interest in the property and the exclusive possession of it”1. Should the tenant have his rights infringed by the landlord, the tenant may seek court assistance to assist his rights under the lease, or since the creation of the PRTB2, which was established by the Residential Tenancies Act3, alternate dispute resolution is available. The development of leases derives from the Landlord and Tenant Law Amendment (Ireland) Act 1860 which is commonly known as Deasy’s Act, which will be discussed at a later stage, where it was established that the relationship between a landlord and tenant was one based on a contract.
Identification of a Lease
A lease is a legal agreement that results in a tenant receiving a right to exclusively possess land and a proprietary interest on it4. Leases have a variety of different legal protection under relevant statutes for both landlord and tenant so it is important not to confuse a lease with another type of legal arrangement such as a licence. It is important to distinguish the two separate concepts. A licence may be terminated without notice, without cause and also unilaterally. A lease on the other hand needs to be terminated by Deasy’s Act or legislation that has followed, such as breach of condition or anti-social behaviour. An interesting and famous case on this issue is that of Irish Shell & BP Ltd v Costello5. This case involved a conflict over the existence of a landlord and tenant relationship or a mere licence. There was a contract, involving land occupation, paid on a periodic basis which allowed the alleged tenant to occupy the land. It was a complex case but the court held that no matter what the document passed between the two parties called their relationship, it was only what happened in reality that mattered. The petrol company argued that it was a licence and the defendant a lease. By the decision the Irish Courts indicated they would remain in favour of the practical relationship presented before them rather than the relationship detailed in the contract. The Irish Courts prefer to make their decisions based on four headings6:
1. Construction of the agreement
2. Intension of the parties as inferred from their words and actions 3. Exclusive possession on the part of the tenant
4. The payment of rent
Construction of the Agreement
As a result of the courts commitment to perusing the true nature of the relationship between the parties, the decision as to whether or not a lease exists will essentially be a matter of construction and a court is empowered to treat that which is called a licence as a lease where appropriate7 . Therefore while the parties will place a label upon their relationship, be it a lease of a licence, it will not automatically result in the court finding that said relationship is in fact a lease or a licence. The placing of the label on the relationship merely discloses prima facie evidence of the intension of the parties. Where there is no written agreement between the parties the court will engage in construction of their words and conduct8.
Intension of the Parties
While all contracts have the prerequisite of the parties intension to create a legal relationship, in the contract of a lease, the courts are...
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