Categories
Property Law

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019-Key Changes

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 has made some significant changes in respect of residential lettings/tenancies. Let’s take a look at them:

Termination of tenancy-notice periods

Duration of tenancy Notice period from 4th June 2019
Less than 6 months 28 days
6 months to 1 year 90 days
1 year to 2 years 120 days
2 years to 3 years 120 days
3 years to 4 years 180 days
4 years to 5 years 180 days
5 years to 6 years 180 days
6 years to 7 years 180 days
7 years to 8 years 196 days
8 or more years 224 days
  • A copy of the termination notice must be sent to the RTB within 28 days after the expiration of the notice period
  • Termination to sell the property: the landlord must enter into a contract to sell the property within 9 months of termination; if this does not happen he must offer the property to a former tenant
  • Termination to allow occupation by a family member: if the family member leaves the property within 1 year it must be offered to the former tenant
  • Termination for substantial refurbishment: the property must be offered back to the tenant when the refurbishment is completed; the landlord must also furnish an architect’s certificate confirming that the tenant must, for health and safety reasons, vacate the property for 3 weeks
  • Termination for change of use: if a property becomes available for letting within 12 months it must be reoffered to the tenant

Rent controls

Existing rent pressure zones have been extended to 2021 with new areas being added as the average rent in the state will be calculated by excluding average rents in Dublin and the greater Dublin area.

Properties that were not let in the previous two years in a RPZ were exempt from the 4% annual cap; this exemption has been removed.

Properties that had a substantial change in the nature of accommodation provided were exempt; now there is a definition of what constitutes substantial change. A change must involve either a permanent extension which increases the floor area of the property by 25% or an improvement of the BER rating by 7 or more ratings or at least 3 of a list of other factors-for example, a permanent increase in the number of rooms or adaptation of the property for access by persons with a disability.

There are also new notification requirements for a landlord seeking to rely on an exemption from the RPZ rent restriction.

The restriction on rent reviews every 2 years which was to expire in 2019 has been extended by 2 more years to 2021.

Offences and penalties

It will be an offence for landlords to be in breach of the provisions dealing with rent restrictions or providing false information to RTB or failing to comply with notice periods or notices from RTB.

The RTB now have extended powers to include the power to carry out investigations, deal with complaints, conduct oral hearings, and impose sanctions on landlords for improper conduct which is defined in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.

Sanctions can involve the payment of a financial penalty up to €15,000 to RTB and the payment of RTB’s costs up to a maximum of €15,000.

Criminal proceedings can also be taken against landlords and appeals/applications may be brought to the Circuit Court.

Registration fees

There is now a new annual registration fee as well as the original registration fee on the commencement of the tenancy. For a single dwelling this is €40 and €40 annually with a bulk registration facility of €170 of up to 10 tenancies in the same property.

Student accommodation

The act extends the scope of the residential tenancies legislation to student accommodation but this has not come into effect yet. Properties where the landlord lives-for example digs-are excluded from the legislation.

Short term lettings

A short term letting (up to 14 days) will require planning permission as it will be considered a change of use from a planning perspective. This is designed to hit Airbnb type lettings in Rent Protection Zones.

Conclusion

There are some significant changes in this legislation to which landlords should pay close attention, particularly in a climate of a housing/accommodation shortage and a growing awareness of tenants in relation to their rights as tenants.