The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) 2020 Bill (the Bill) was passed in the Dail on 26 March.
The Bill includes amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) for the protection of residential tenants, including those occupying "student accommodation". In this article, Gerry Gallen (Partner) looks at the provisions.
- The measures will be in place for 3 months, which may be extended
- No termination of tenancy during this period
- No rent increases during this period
Proposed time periods
The measures are to last initially for 3 months and such further period as may be specified by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, following consultation with the Minister for Health and with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This is known as the Emergency Period.
If the Bill is passed in the Seanad, as expected, the following provisions shall come into operation on 30 March 2020 for the Emergency Period:
1. Termination Notices suspended
- a landlord cannot serve a Termination Notice for any reason (including for anti-social reasons) during the Emergency Period, and further cannot take action to implement a notice already served;
- a valid Termination Notice already served for a date falling within the Emergency Period is now extended by the length of the Emergency Period plus any balance period in the notice yet to run;
- A tenant in receipt of a Termination Notice will be entitled to remain in occupation until the end of the Emergency Period subject to the same terms and conditions that applied before the notice was served, unless specifically directed to vacate by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) No rent increases
All rent increases will be prohibited during the Emergency Period, including any increases that have been previously notified and which would otherwise take effect.
2. Enhanced notice periods for short term tenants
For tenants with less than 6 months' occupancy, a landlord is now obliged to allow 28 days, instead of 14, as the period for the warning notice issued to tenants for termination for non-payment of rent. The Landlord however is still not entitled to serve the actual Termination Notice during the Emergency Period.
3. Tenancy renewal rights
The Bill does not permit tenants to use the Emergency Period to accrue occupancy entitlements that would not otherwise have arisen, to assist with their future tenancy entitlements.
4. No public RTB Tribunal proceedings
The proceedings of the RTB Tribunal sitting in public are suspended during the Emergency Period, but the dispute resolution services of the RTB will continue.
The measures are undoubtedly a relief to residential tenants. Landlords should recognise that the measures are not a rent moratorium, as tenants are still obliged to pay the prevailing rent and comply with their agreements.
For more information please get in touch with Gerry Gallen (Commercial Property).
To discuss any other COVID-19 related issues impacting your business, please get in touch with Barry Cahir (Litigation and Insolvency), Thomas O'Dwyer (Litigation), Sharon Delaney (Litigation), Dorit McCann (EU, Competition & Procurement), Damian Maloney (Corporate and Commercial), Aidan Marsh (Commercial Property), Gerry Gallen (Commercial Property), Sandra Masterson Power (Employment), Paul Gough (Employment), Edward Evans (Corporate & Commerical), Fidelma McManus (Housing) or your usual Beauchamps contact.