The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, 2015 was signed into law On the 4th December 2015. The Act provides for a series of major reforms to the private rental sector in Ireland to provide rent certainty & safeguards for both tenants and landlords. Two examples of such reforms, which came into immediate effect are the temporary increase of the rent review period from one to two years, as well the increase of notice periods for rent reviews.
Further amendments came into effect on 7th April 2016 with the signing of another partial Commencement Order. The Private Residential Tenancies Board was renamed as the Residential Tenancies Board (“RTB”). The dropping of “Private” from the Board’s title is reflective of the expansion of the RTB’s remit to include Approved Housing Bodies. Approved Housing Bodies are not for profit housing providers, often referred to as housing associations, who provide accommodation for those in need. This new change will ensure that both tenants and landlords of these properties will be afforded protection under the Residential Tenancies Acts and will be able to access the disputes resolution services of the RTB. The Register maintained by the RTB has also been renamed to be simply the “residential tenancies register” and AHBs have a period of 12 months from 7 April 2016 within which to register with the RTB.
The law now requires 2 years between all rent reviews for a period of 4 years from enactment after which the duration between rent reviews will revert to 12 months.
The extended restriction is also retrospective, in that it applies not just to new, but to all existing tenancies. For existing tenancies, the two-year period for the first rent review since the introduction of the extended restriction, is counted from the later of (i) the commencement of the tenancy (where no rent review had taken place prior to 4 December 2015) and (ii) the most recent rent review date.
As well as this, the period of notice of a new rent has been extended from 28 days to 90 days. Since December 2015, if a landlord is seeking to review the rent, they must serve notice on the tenant, in writing, providing 90 days’ notice before the increase is due to take effect. The notice periods for the termination of tenancies have also been expanded, including the introduction of scale of notice periods for the termination of tenancies where there has been occupation of between 4 and 8 years. To illustrate, for tenancies of 4 years or longer the notice period for termination by a tenant remains at 84 days save for tenancies of eight years or more where 112 days’ notice is required. In contrast, the notice periods for landlords increase with every additional year of the tenancy culminating with a notice period of 224 days for tenancies of eight years or more.
The new Act also introduces measures to oblige landlords to provide more evidence that rent increases are in line with the local market rate and will legally oblige them to inform tenants of their rights and how to dispute future rent increases with the PRTB.
Further to this. landlords who intend to sell their property or terminate a tenancy in order for a family member to use it will have to supply a ‘statutory declaration’ to a tenant of their intent to sell and could be liable for a fine if it does not materialise. The measure is designed to prevent abuse of procedures in order to terminate a tenancy. Finally, the Act also includes new provisions governing disputes and provision for determination orders concerning terminations of tenancies to be dealt with by the District Court as opposed to Circuit Court, with a view to reducing the time and cost involved in the resolution of dispute.