The new residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 (the 2019 Act) was signed into law on the 24 May 2019. The 2019 Act amends the Residential Tenancies Act 2001 to 2016.
The 2019 Act introduces significant changes for the residential rental sector. The Act introduces changes affecting short term lettings, student accommodation, introduces greater protection for tenants, Landlords should be aware of the sanctions and the greater policing powers of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) introduced under the Act. Therefore the RTB can take a more active role in enforcing the legislation. Landlords should also be aware that the act provides for offences in relation to non compliance with rent increase restrictions in rent pressure zones (RPZ), increases the notice periods in the case of termination of a tenancy and also provides for annual registration by landlords of tenancies.
Here are some of the key changes to be aware of under The Act are as follows:
- Termination of Tenancies by Landlord
The Act introduces new rules which apply to Landlords terminating a tenancy. Landlords must comply with new notice periods when terminating a tenancy with longer notice periods required when the tenancy has lasted between 6 months and 7 years.
The following is a comparison between the new and old periods:
|Duration of Tenancy||Previous Notice Period||New Notice Period|
|Less than 6 months||28 days||28 days|
|6 or more months but less than 1 year||35 days||90 days|
|1 year or more but less than 2 years||42 days||120 days|
|2 years or more but less than 3 years||56 days||120 days|
|3 years or more but less than 4 years||84 days||180 days|
|4 years or more but less than 5 years||112 days||180 days|
|5 years or more but less than 6 years||140 days||180 days|
|6 years or more but less than 7 years||168 days||180 days|
|7 years or more but less than 8 years||196 days||196 days|
|8 or more years||224 days||224 days|
The Act introduces more stringent conditions on a landlord who wants to terminate a tenancy for one of the following reasons:
- Sale of the property: if a landlord wants to end the tenancy to enable him/her sell the property the landlord must enter into a contract for sale within 9 months of the termination date. If this does not happen the landlord is obliged to reoffer the property to the former tenant, provided the tenant has given the landlord their contact details)
- Occupation by Landlord or Landlords Family Member/ Change of use: If a landlord wants to terminate the letting on the grounds of change of use or the landlord or his family members want to move into the property , the landlord must offer the property back to the former tenant should it become available for letting from 12 months from the expiry of the notice of termination notice ( provided the tenant has given the landlord their contact details)
- Substantial Refurbishment: Where a landlord wants to terminate a tenancy in order to carry out substantial refurbishment, the landlord must prove for health and safety reasons by means of a certificate from a qualified professional that it is necessary for the tenant to vacate the property for a minimum of 3 weeks. The landlord is obliged to offer the property back to the former tenant when the works have been completed.
Termination Notice – The landlord must serve a termination Notice on the tenant. A copy of this notice has to be sent to the RTB not later than 28 days after the expiration of the notice period.
- Rent Pressure Zones
In an attempt to address the escalation of rents in certain areas of the country RPZ were introduced restricting the level of rent that could be charged. Current RPZ designations will now remain in place until 31st December 2021. If your property is situated in one of these zones you can only increase your rent by a maximum of 4% every 12 months. It is important to investigate whether the property you intend to rent is located in one of the designated zones. There are a number of Exemptions from the RPZ rent restrictions for example, properties not let in previous two years, property being rented for the first time , there has been substantial change to the nature of the accommodation. To rely on these exemptions, you must serve a notice setting out the grounds for claiming the exemption to the RTB within one month of implementing the new rent.
- RTB Powers to Investigate and Imposed Sanctions
The powers of RTB have been extended to investigate landlords for Improper Conduct. Improper conduct includes failure of a Landlord to comply with its registration obligations or with the regulation of rents in Rent Pressure Zones or knowingly terminating a tenancy in a way that is false or misleading in a material respect or failing to register a tenancy. Greater powers have now been given to RTB to deal with complaints and they will have a more active role in policing the sector and enforcing the legislation. There are a number of sanctions for Improper conduct by a landlord set out under the Act which includes payment of a financial penalty of up to €15,000.00 to the RTB, payment of the costs of the RTB of up to €15,000.00 and a written caution to the landlord.
- Student Accommodation
Under the 2019 Act student accommodation comes under the residential letting legislation for the first time. If a landlord provides residential accommodation to students during the academic term, they come under the remit of the RTB. Landlords and student tenants will have access to the RTB disputes resolution service. The 2019 Act will apply even if the accommodation is used for any other purpose outside of term times. Generally, student occupy the accommodation under a licence and licences have been brought the remit of legislation. In terminating an agreement with a student, the landlord must abide by the notice periods as outlined above but is not obliged to give reasons for the termination which differs from your obligations on non-student accommodation. Therefore, students are given protections under the new legislation.
Landlords should be aware that the 2019 Act introduces a new annual registration requirement wherein landlords are obliged to register on the commencement of the tenancy as well as annually during the tenancy.
Carter Anhold & Co. are here to help with any landlord and tenant queries or questions you may have. If you would like to know more information, please contact our office on 071 916 2211 and we would be delighted to assist with any query.