I received a call from a client recently in a similar position to you. However, she was in hospital with Coronavirus at the time and she was worrying about this very same issue from her hospital bed!
I would suggest, in the first instance, you contact your tenant to assess their situation and their ability to maintain the rent at the current level in light of Covid-19.
Then, contact Revenue to see if there is a temporary social welfare supplement available for your tenant (even if they are a private renter) or even for yourself.
You may find that your tenant might possibly still be paid their salary by their employer who may have the option of government subsidy to keep them on the payroll (subject to certain conditions).
At worst, if they are now unemployed due to Covid-19, they are still likely to have government assistance so they could continue to keep paying rent or even a short term renegotiated rent for say 3 months.
We are all in unchartered waters but best to engage with your tenant and Revenue as soon as you can.
It would indeed be important to explore the possibilities of the potential site before placing the property on the market.
You could instruct an architect to investigate with your local Planning Office: (South Dublin Co. Co.) on your behalf to assess if there is any likely development potential.
If the result of these preliminary investigations is positive on a scale of 1-10, assuming that the proposed new house would be detached from the original house and retaining a side entrance, you could go ahead and obtain Outline Planning Permission thus increasing the value of the property substantially.
In the event of Planning Permission becoming likely for two units even if they are likely to be smaller, this would still of course further increase the value proportionately.
If on the other hand the proposed new house is to be attached to the original, it would be difficult to sell the site separately as the original house would likely require modification and may prove too costly and more difficult for the builder to operate in conjunction with the owners of the original house, who may or may not wish to engage in such discussions.
Having obtained Outline Planning for a separate unit, you would need to engage the services of a solicitor and architect to legally separate the site and create a new independent title so the site can be sold separately.
There will be a market for the site and a different market for the house. A builder buying the site would probably not want the house and the buyer of the house would not necessarily want or be able to afford to buy the house and site as one lot.
The value of the site would obviously be worth considerably more than any diminution in value of the house by losing the existing larger garden.
Obtain opinion or Outline Planning for a separate dwelling (or two if possible).
Sell the site.
Sell the house.
You will end up with considerably more for the property rather than just selling the house with a larger garden. This would be well worth the wait and relatively low cost by comparison to the end result you could achieve.
If, at the outset, planning is going to be unlikely, at least you know that you are not under selling the property if you eventually sell the entire as one lot.
You can refer to the rtb.ie website under “Notices of Termination” which outlines what is required of you, as landlord, if you are considering selling your rented residential property:
As your tenants are there for approx. 4 years you need to issue them with 180 days notice.
You will need to serve your tenants with a “Notice of Termination- Landlord intends to sell the Dwelling”. This must be accompanied by a “Statutory Declaration for Landlord intending to sell the dwelling” signed by a solicitor. This will be accompanied by a “Notice of Termination” form.
There would be a much lower market demand for a property with tenants in situ without vacant possession. You will be looking to sell to an investor who will require the maximum return on their investment:
Are you currently achieving full market rent? If your property is located within a Rent Pressure Zone then the rent would be capped at 4% pa. Was the rent increased recently? If you are not achieving full market rent then your sale price expectation will be severely compromised if you really want to leave your tenants in situ.
You will achieve full market value for the property if sold with vacant possession.
If you are selling with vacant possession (recommended) and as your tenants would appear to be keeping the property well and tidy then arrangements can be made with your tenants regarding the viewing times unless you want to sell after the tenants have left.
Ideally it would be better to have the house vacant when putting the property on the market as prospective buyers may have concerns about whether the tenants will leave on time and will the property be left in good condition as viewed. If the house is presented as vacant then there would be no potential issues.
It appears that the property is being managed by the landlord himself rather than engaging a managing agent. In that case he is the first point of contact for you to have this resolved.You need to refer to your lease agreement to clarify if there are any special conditions regarding who is responsible for maintaining appliances.
Normally it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the appliances are in a satisfactory working condition unless the machine has been abused by over filling or putting in clothes without emptying pockets, cleaning out filter etc., in which case it would be your responsibility to cover the cost of repair/ replacement.
Assuming this is not the case and the machine continually breaks down through no fault of your own, it would in my view be reasonable for you to request and expect that your landlord promptly replace it and have a new machine installed, or have an appliance specialist assess why the machine is not draining properly.
It would be prudent to outline to your landlord the damage this is causing to the kitchen floor and how it would be more cost effective to replace the machine rather than ultimately a new floor!
Alternatively, you could suggest that you could have a new washing machine installed at an agreed budget with your landlord and deduct the cost from the next rent payment.
If the problem remains unresolved, the landlord is most likely to be in breach of his responsibility to you as his tenant for not ensuring that the appliance is maintained in satisfactory working order.
Failing agreement on these two approaches, you should contact the RTB for their advice. You will at that stage need to give written notice of your concerns in conjunction with initiating a dispute resolution through the RTB.
Naturally it is always best to try to have such issues resolved by direct communication with your landlord in the first instance.