Coronavirus: emergency concessions for Irish renters

Out-Law Analysis | 18 Aug 2020 | 1:14 pm | 4 min. read

Ireland has passed emergency legislation to help those who have lost their jobs and are unable to meet their obligations under tenancy agreements due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Passed on 1 August 2020, the 2020 Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act (the Act) provides for longer notice periods in notices of termination for failure to pay rent served on tenants during the 'emergency period', which runs until 10 January 2021. It also prohibits increases in rents on tenancies of dwellings during this period.

The Act also contains additional provisions on giving notifications and notices of termination by landlords to tenants and the Residential Tenancies Board in relation to arrears of rent; as well as extending the period within which a valuation list in relation to the rating authority area of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council must be published.

The Act amends the 2004 Residential Tenancies Act (2004 Act); the 2020 Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act (Covid-19 Act); and the 2001 Valuation Act (2001 Act) for these and other purposes.

Protection of tenants during the emergency period

Part 2 of the Act contains measures designed to protect tenants during the emergency period.

In order to benefit from these protections, section 4 of the Act states that a tenant must provide a declaration in writing to the Residential Tenancies Board and a 'true copy' to the landlord, stating that:

  • they are a 'relevant person'; and
  • there is a significant risk that the tenancy of the dwelling will be terminated by the landlord.

The declaration must be addressed to the person on whom it is required to be served by name. It may be served on that person in one of the following ways:

  • by delivering it to the person;
  • by leaving it at the address at which the person ordinarily resides;
  • by sending it via registered post to the address at which the person ordinarily resides; or
  • by electronic means.

The Act defines a 'relevant person' as someone who is unable to comply with their obligations under the 2004 Act to pay rent due in respect of the tenancy of a dwelling for one of the following reasons:

  • they are a person to whom section 40(7) of the 2005 Social Welfare Consolidation Act (2005 Act) applies. This includes a person incapable of work, or deemed to be incapable of work, by virtue of being certified by a registered medical practitioner as a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, or who is a probable source of Covid-19 infection;
  • they belong to a category under section 40(8) of the 2005 Act and, by virtue of the terms and conditions of their employment, are not entitled to illness benefit in respect of Covid-19 related absences from employment arising out of section 40(7); or
  • those categories applied to them at any time between 9 March 2020 and 10 January 2021; or
  • they received the temporary wage subsidy or supplementary welfare allowance between 9 March 2020 and 10 January 2021, or any other statutory payment from public funds provided to alleviate financial hardship resulting from the loss of employment caused by the spread, or risk of spread of, Covid-19, or measures adopted by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Notices of termination served during the emergency period

Section 5 of the Act amends section 67(2)(b) of the 2004 Act by extending the notice requirement, from 28 days to 90 days, for the landlord to give notice of the termination of the tenancy due to the tenant's failure to comply with any of the obligations of the tenancy (other than for antisocial behaviour or threatening the fabric of the dwelling and property). A notice to which this section applies cannot specify a termination date that falls earlier than 11 January 2021.Currently, section 67(3) of the 2004 Act provides that notice of termination for failure to pay rent should be given only after the lapse of a 14 day period after the landlord notifies the tenant that the rent is due. Section 12 of the new Act extends this 14 day period to 28 days.

Where a part 2 tenancy is being terminated, the period of notice is 28 days provided that, where the reason for termination is the failure by the tenant to pay rent, the landlord has given notice in writing to the tenant and the Residential Tenancy Board that rent is due and the amount is not paid to the landlord within 28 days of receipt of the notice by the later of the tenant or the Residential Tenancy Board.

Where the tenant becomes a relevant person after the service of a notice of termination to which this section applies, the termination date under that notice will be:

  • the date immediately following the expiration of 90 days from the service of the notice of termination; or
  • the date immediately following the expiration of the emergency period.

Prohibition on rent increases during the emergency period

Any rent increases set out in the tenancy agreement that were due to take effect during the emergency period will not take effect or be payable during this period.

Extension of period for valuation list

The Act extends the period within which Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council rating authority area must publish a valuation list from not less than five years and not more than 10 years, to not less than five years and not more than 12 years.

Co-written by Anton Trofimchenko and Lisa Matthews of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.