Update on proposed residential tenancies reforms
With Ireland currently facing a housing crisis, a number of recently-proposed Bills may affect the rights of both landlords and tenants. If these Bills are passed, it is of utmost importance to know how your obligations as a landlord will change.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2018
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2018 was introduced in December 2018 and is currently at the Committee Stage of Dáil Eireann. The Bill seeks to:
- Increase the security of tenure for residential tenants
- Place further obligations on landlords
- Increase the investigative powers of the Residential Tenancies Board
The Bill proposes significant increases in the notice period for the termination of a tenancy by a landlord. For example, the current notice period for a tenant who has lived in a property for more than one year but less than two years is 42 days. If the bill is passed, this will be increased to a proposed 120 days.
The Bill also proposes that a landlord will be required to re-register the details of a tenancy on a yearly basis within one month of the anniversary of the commencement of the tenancy; currently a landlord is required to re-register every four years. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) will require Registration fees to be paid annually.
Under the proposed changes, ‘Authorised Officers’ of the RTB are to have various powers while carrying out an investigation of alleged improper conduct by a landlord. Such an investigation may begin upon receipt of a complaint or on the RTB’s own volition. Powers include (amongst others):
- Power to inspect, examine and search a premises connected with the letting or tenancy of a dwelling
- Power to remove records from the premises relating to the investigation
- Power to require information or assistance from any person in charge of or employed on the premises
- Power to require a Landlord to provide an explanation of a decision, course of action, system or practice or the nature or content of any records taken during the investigation
Sanctions for improper conduct following such an investigation are up to €15,000, a dramatic increase on the current fines under the current Residential Tenancies Acts of up to €3,000.
Aside from the changes proposed in the Bill, other Bills before the Dáil dealing with residential tenancies propose further changes, such as:
- A record being maintained by the RTB of the particulars of tenancies for each residential property registered with the RTB including: rent paid, the period the rent covered and other particulars which may later be prescribed. The particulars recorded would be made available to new tenants of a property to allow them to ensure there is no breach of the Rent Pressure Zone legislation (Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill 2018)
- Currently, any landlord has a right to terminate a tenancy where it is their intention to enter into a contract for sale of the property, within three months of the termination date. The Residential Tenancies (Prevention of Family Homelessness) Bill 2018 proposes that a landlord may not terminate a tenancy on the basis of intention to sell a property where that property Is subject to an ‘investment mortgage’. An investment mortgage’ is “…a mortgage which has been taken out as security in respect of a residential property that was not at the time of its purchase intended to serve as the principal private residence of the mortgagee, and is subsequently the subject of a tenancy agreement”
Article by Ronan Healy
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