Republic of Ireland Law
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1. Dear Martin, the first thing you need to be aware of is that a right of residence is personal to the occupant and as such it cannot be rented out or given to someone else to occupy. So, essentially, your sister has a right of residence for as long as she, herself, occupies the property, with whoever she wishes, until she dies or ceases to be in occupation. There is no right o rent out the property during the period of the right of residence. During this period, all parties, including the four siblings bear the right of maintenance, although the occupant of the right of residence bears the primary right to maintain the property. It is the occupant who can decide the colouring and type of upkeep given to the property. However, all four siblings have the obligation not to do anything which might diminish the value of the property. It is the occupant who owes the obligation to pay any Property Tax. However, the other three/four beneficiaries do not have any rights to live in the property or do anything with the property so long as the right to residence operates. The other three beneficiaries have an inchoate right, namely rights which have not yet vested due to the operation of the right of residence. So, really the other tenants in common have an obligation not to do anything which might diminish the value of the property but they get no rights to enjoy the property or to decide how it will be dealt with until the end of the right of residence.
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3. What has been created depends upon the wording. A crudely expressed "right to live in the house" is a right of residence. However, a right to live there "for her life" would create a life interest which is a different species of right with different rights attaching to it. Normally a right of residence is expressed as a "a right to reside in the house for her day" or some form of words like this. If you have doubts about what has been created, you should take the will as a whole to a solicitor and have the solicitor read it entirely as you can only get a feel for what has been created from reading the tenor of the will in its entirety. Finally, a right of residence gives no right to rent rooms, but something like a life interest would. So, for this reason, you should be certain as to what has been created and whether this is a right of residence or not. I have advised you on the basis it is a right of residence.