Four important changes to rental legislation

On 24 May 2019, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 (“the Act”) was signed by the President. The Act introduced a range of significant changes for the residential rental sector, some of which are effective from 4 June 2019 and others that will be phased in over the coming months.

In this article, we’ve highlighted four key changes of the Act, which will have implications for both landlords and tenants.

Improved security of tenure

Effective from 4 June, the legislation seeks to strengthen the security of tenure provisions for tenants by extending the current notice periods given by landlords which were previously set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The Act also strengthens the provisions relating to grounds for termination. The following significant changes have been introduced:

  • A change to notices of termination where the landlord intends to sell a property. A landlord must enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the termination date or must offer to re-let the property to the tenant.
  • A change to notices of termination where the landlord intends to substantially refurbish the dwelling. An Architect/Engineer’s Certificate is required to confirm that the works proposed would pose a health and safety risk requiring the tenants to vacate and requiring at least three weeks to complete. In addition, the landlord must offer the property back to the original tenant on completion of the works.
  • A change to notices of termination where a landlord intends to move in or move family in and where a landlord intends to change the use of the dwelling. In the event the property is subsequently vacated within one year of termination of the tenancy, the landlord must offer the property back to the tenant.

Changes to Rent Pressure Zone measures

Also effective from 4 June, the following important changes have been made to the exemptions that allow landlords to set the rent to market levels:

  • A property must be new to the market, having not been let in the two years prior to the immediate tenancy commencement date. The exemption applies for the initial rent review to market level but thereafter the Rent Pressure Zone rules apply.
  • The landlord must have carried out substantial improvements to the property since the last rent was set. The Act also clarifies the meaning of “substantial improvement”. A substantial improvement in the nature of the accommodation provided under a tenancy will only take place in certain circumstances

All Rent Pressure Zone designations have been extended until 31st December 2021.

More effective complaints and investigations process

The Act also introduces provisions allowing for complaints to, and investigations by, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). These are effective from the 1 July. The Act provides the RTB with more effective powers to directly regulate the rental sector. The legislation sets out a complaints, investigations and sanctions process that will allow the RTB to proactively monitor and enforce the legislation in relation to these three key areas.

The legislation provides that the RTB shall be allowed, with or without a complaint, to investigate potential breaches or “improper conduct”. Where the RTB finds that “improper conduct” has occurred, the RTB can apply a caution or a sanction on a landlord of up to €15,000.

Extensions to student accommodation

Effective from 15 July, the Act extends the scope of some of the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Acts to student accommodation, even if the occupation is permitted under a licence. Landlords and student tenants will now also have access to the RTB’s dispute resolution service.

A previous article by Ronan Healy on The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 was published on our website in February. Click here to read that article.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

Eimear Coughlan, Senior Associate