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Know Your Rights: Tenants’ rights

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Q: My private rented accommodation is damp and mouldy. Does the landlord have to fix this?

A: Yes, your landlord has a legal duty to make sure that your home meets certain minimum physical standards. This includes keeping it in a proper state of structural repair and free from damp.

Does my landlord have to provide a washing machine?

Yes, your landlord must provide you with access to a washing machine, and a clothes-dryer if your home does not have a private garden or yard.

Some of the other things they must provide include:

* A 4-ring hob with oven and grill
* A cooker hood or extractor fan
* A microwave oven
* A sink with hot and cold water
* A well ventilated bathroom which is in a separate room from the living quarters
* A fixed heating appliance in each room which you can control
* Vermin-proof rubbish storage facilities

Is my landlord responsible if my possessions are damaged because of an issue with the property, for example, if the pipes burst?

While the landlord is responsible for keeping the building in good repair they are not generally responsible for any damage to your possessions. Several insurance companies provide contents insurance for private tenants.

What should I do if my house does not meet the minimum standards?

First speak to your landlord about the problem. Put your complaint in writing and include as many details as possible, including photographs, videos and any receipts for repairs you did at your own expense. If your landlord refuses to carry out the necessary repairs, you should report them to your local authority.
Read more about standards for rented accommodation on citizensinformation.ie.

I am moving out of my rented accommodation, when will I get my deposit back?

If you haven’t broken your tenancy agreement, you should get your deposit back soon after you move out. The landlord may need time to inspect or repair the property. You should expect to get your deposit back within two weeks of moving out, though this is not a legal requirement.

Can my landlord keep my deposit?

Your landlord can only keep your deposit for the following reasons:

* Rent arrears (unpaid or outstanding rent)
* Unpaid bills
* Damage to the property above normal wear and tear
* You did not give adequate notice

What should I do if the landlord tells me they will not return my deposit because the property is damaged?

Your landlord can only keep your deposit if the property is damaged above what is considered normal wear and tear. If you don’t have photos of the property from when you moved in and out, you should ask for photographic evidence of the damage from the landlord. If they say the repairs have been done ask to see the receipts for the work. Keep a record of all your correspondence.

What do I do next if my landlord still won’t return my deposit?

You can make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The RTB deals with most disputes between landlords and tenants, rather than the courts. You can apply for dispute resolution by mediation on the RTB’s website for free.

Read more about resolving a dispute with your landlord on citizensinformation.ie.

You can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0818 07 7860. The telephone lines are staffed from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday. The National Phone Service is available on 0818 07 4000 Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm.

Alternatively, you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie.

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Wildflowers are not always simple to grow

By Debby Looney, gardening expert There is nothing quite like the low, humming sound of insects in the garden. I always find the different pitches of the buzzing fascinating, from […]

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

There is nothing quite like the low, humming sound of insects in the garden. I always find the different pitches of the buzzing fascinating, from the drone of a big, furry bumble bee to the high pitched whirring of hoverflies.

And wasps always seem to have a dangerous sound – it is unique to them, in any case. It is possible to help pollinators into your garden at almost any time of the year, solitary bees such as bumbles and leafcutter bees, will come out of hibernation on a sunny December day if there are some heather flowers nearby. tulips, hyacinths, crocus and snowdrops provide sustenance in early spring, along with shrubs such as hamamelis, daphne, viburnum and willow. In April, the small flowers of the field maple attract many insects, as do the large trumpet shaped flowers of rhododendrons and azaleas. Wildflowers are now beginning to bloom, and they are the subject of today’s column!

While it seems counterintuitive, wildflowers are not always simple to grow, especially as we mean ‘pretty meadow blooms’ as opposed to ‘weeds’! Creating an area for wildflowers takes some preparation. Most important is that it is a weed free area. Kill off any grass or weeds before sowing, either by using conventional weedkillers, or by laying down a sheet of black polythene or weed suppressant. Make sure any seeds which germinate are removed also, and that problematic plants such as rushes, are dug out. Most importantly, ensure all grass is gone, as wildflowers do not compete well against its vigorous growth. Rake the top layer of the soil loose to a fine tilth, and do not add fertiliser! Wildflowers will generally not do well in a rich soil. When your area is ready, decide which seeds are best for your spot. There is much to choose from, for example, single varieties such as ragged Robin, teasels and poppies, or mixtures. There are seed mixes for perennial meadows, ones which attract birds – these usually have a high volume of seed bearing flowers, mixes for bees, ladybirds or certain colour mixes. There are also soil specific mixes.

SOWING SEEDS

Sow your seeds thinly and evenly onto the prepared ground. I tend to cover with netting at this time of year, because, although it is the best time of year to sow, and there is a very high germination rate, birds are also a problem!

The only maintenance really is to keep an eye on slug damage – I scatter in a few pellets when I sow anything – and if there are very dense clumps of seedlings forming, thin them out. When the flowers have gone to seed in the autumn, just cut them to ground level, leave the cuttings a few days for the seeds to drop out, and rake the foliage up. If left to rot in situ, it will make the soil too fertile for a good display the following year.

I mention the use of slug pellets. To the best of my knowledge, the use of metaldehyde poison in slug pellets has been banned for a few years now, and pellets are made of ferric phosphate which is not harmful to pets or birds unless ingested in very large amounts. However, there are some ingredients used in slug pellets which may potentially cause damage to earthworms and other soil dwellers, so please, always use sparingly and where possible, not at all!

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Routine and balance are crucial in the run up to exams

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors As you approach the countdown to the beginning of the Junior and Leaving Cert Exams on June 8, it […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

As you approach the countdown to the beginning of the Junior and Leaving Cert Exams on June 8, it is very important to maintain a healthy balance so that you can pace yourself properly.

It can be tempting to try to pack in long hours of last minute study at this stage and become more focused on what you don’t know instead of what you do! Stress is a normal part of facing exams and in fact a certain amount of it is helpful to ensure that it mobilises you to perform well, but it is essential that you keep it, and the exams, in perspective. After many years of supporting students before, during and after exams, I know too well how overwhelming the experience can be so I urge you to do everything you can to look after your well-being at this stage.

Before the exams

Stick to a good routine with a healthy balance in terms of revision, rest, fresh air, sleep and diet. Don’t be tempted to work late at night as it is usually unproductive and impacts on your concentration the following day. Approach your last minute revision in a targeted way with the guidance you have been given by your teachers. Have a schedule with your exam dates/times highlighted hanging up where it is obvious and visible at home and take a photo to save on your phone.

During the exams

Set two alarms for the mornings of exams and allow lots of extra time. You will need to be in your assigned seat in the exam centre at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam on day one and 15 minutes before all other exams. Hydration is really important during the exams to help with concentration so make sure you have plenty of water. The first thing to do when you look at the paper is to read the instructions carefully, your teacher will have gone through these many times with you. Mark all the questions you are going to do and write out a quick time plan for yourself. Focus on exactly what you are being asked; the most common feedback from examiners is that students give a lot of irrelevant information so keep glancing back at the question to keep yourself on task to target the marks.

Breathing

If you feel you are becoming really anxious in the exam hall, focus on controlling your breath to bring a sense of calm. Breathe in through your nose for two seconds, hold your breath for one second, and breathe out through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat for one minute.

After the exam

Try to avoid too much discussion after each paper, ‘post-mortems’ of the exams are rarely helpful and can add to stress levels so once each exam is done, take a break and then move on to preparing for the next one. I can tell you that regardless of what happens in each exam, you will have lots of options available to you and an interesting journey ahead.

Keep in mind that while the Leaving Cert is an important exam and big milestone, it will not define you for the rest of your life. Best of luck to the class of 2022!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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