New legal changes affecting tenants' rights and entitlements
Student Accommodation as of July 15th 2019
Students, both full-time and part-time, residing in Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) or in accommodation provided by their educational institutions will now have re-course to the protections of the Residential Tenancies Board. Caps on Rent increases of 4% now apply to student accommodation within designated rent pressure zones.”
Students in digs and students renting in the private market are not covered by the new legislation. They remain with the rights that they currently have. In the case of students in 'digs' they are still considered 'licensees# without the protection of the new legislation. Students renting in the private market (e.g. students who simply rent an apartment somewhere) are tenants and have the full protections of the Residential Tenancies Board.
Students residing in both Halls of residences and private purpose built accommodation are not covered by every part of the new legislation. The most significant exclusion is from a 'Part Four' tenancy.
New Rent Pressure Zones as of July 2nd 2019 are as follows
- Athlone (Westmeath side),
- Dundalk-Carlingford and Dundalk-South,
- Limerick City North and West,
- Waterford City East and Waterford City South
Extension of Notice Periods
Notice periods a landlord must give for tenancies lasting over 6 months and less than 7 years will be increased substantially.
Duration of Tenancy
New Notice Period
Former Notice Period
Less than 6 months
Not less than 6 months but less than 1 year
Not less than 1 year but less than 3 years
Not less than 3 year but less than 7 years
Not less than 7 year but less than 8 years
8 years or more
Changes to Substantial Refurbishment or renovation.
Where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she needs to substantially refurbish/renovate the property, that property must be offered back to the former tenant who provides their contact details, upon completion of the works. In addition, a certificate from an architect or surveyor will be required to the effect that
- the proposed substantial refurbishment/renovation works in question would pose a health and safety risk requiring vacation by the tenants
- would require at least 3 weeks to complete.
Changes to the ‘offer back’ requirements
In certain circumstances, where a landlord terminates a tenancy, and the reason for that termination doesn’t occur or ends after a short time, the landlord must offer back the property to the former tenant. The time limits within which a landlord must offer the property back have been extended:
Where the landlord has terminated the tenancy for:
- Own use - requirement to offer back extended from 6 to 12 months.
- Change of use - requirement to offer back extended from 6 to 12 months.
- Substantial Refurbishment – The dwelling becomes available due to the completion of the works.
- Sale – If not sold within nine months.
Termination for Sale (new requirements)
Landlord must now sell within 9 months rather than intend to sell within 3 months.
New requirements for the declaration which accompanies the termination notice, in addition to the existing requirements the landlord is required to offer to the tenant a tenancy of the dwelling if he does not enter into an enforceable agreement within 9 months of the termination date.
There are changes to section 56 of the act which allows a tenant to lodge a dispute for compensation where they have vacated on foot of an unlawful notice. Tenants will be able apply seek redress at the RTB where an enforceable agreement has not been entered into within 9 months or the offer back requirement has not been met.
Remedial notice of 28 days can now be issued if Notice of Termination, which is challenge by a tenant at the RTB, is found to be invalid but does not contain an error which materially impacts the notice.
The amendment to section 66 provides that where a notice of termination has been served on a tenant and an adjudicator has found that the notice is invalid due to a defect in the notice or service, but the defect does not prejudice the notice, the adjudicator shall make a determination that the landlord can remedy the invalid notice by serving a remedial notice. The remedial notice will provide the tenant with only 28 days to vacate the property in circumstances where proper notice period has expired. If proper notice period has not expired, then the notice period will be 28 days plus that period.
Extension of RPZs
The designation of existing RPZs will be extended to the end of 2021.
Expansion of RPZs
Changes have been made in respect of the average rent qualifying criterion for RPZ designation.
Using RTB data:
- the rent of a dwelling in the Greater Dublin Area (Kildare, Wicklow and Meath) will now be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding Dublin rents;
- the rent of a dwelling outside of the Greater Dublin Area will be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding the Greater Dublin Area rents.
Rent Reviews outside the RPZs
Outside of RPZ’s, the requirement for bi-annual rent review cycles, rather than annual, will continue to the end of 2021.
Exemption from RPZ on rental dwellings coming to market
The exemptions from the 4% p.a. rent increase restriction in RPZs have been revised so to apply only to the first rent setting, rather than every rent setting, during the period of RPZ designation in respect of a new rental property, including a property that had not be rented in the 2 year period prior to any RPZ designation.
Definition of Substantial Change for Exemption to RPZ rules
A definition has been provided to determine the works that qualify for the exemption from the rent increase restriction in respect of a substantial change in the nature of the rental property – such works shall consist of:
- a permanent extension increasing the floor area by 25%
- an increase in the BER of the building by at least 7 grades.
- at least 3 of the following;
- a permanent alteration of the internal layout
- adaptations for persons with a disability
- a permanent increase in the number of rooms
- an improvement in the BER by 3 or more ratings for those with a BER of D1 or lower or an improvement by 2 ratings for those with a BER of C3 or higher.
Notification of Substantial Change exemption
The addition of 5(B) to section 19 outlines the requirement for a landlord to serve notice to the RTB, with all relevant supporting documents of their intention to avail of the “substantial change” exemption. This notice must be served within one month from setting the rent under the tenancy of the new dwelling.
Substantial Change Exemption and Minimum Standards
The addition of 5(A)b to section 19 ensures that a landlord cannot avail of an RPZ exemption if the substantial change carried is to upgrade the property to meet minimum standards. It ensures that landlords who are providing accommodation below the minimum standard are not rewarded to meet the legal requirements placed upon them.