What has the Cabinet agreed to do and why?
On Tuesday, the Government decided not to extend the eviction ban that has been in place since October 30th covering “the winter emergency period” beyond its planned expiry on March 31st. The ban means that if you were renting private rental accommodation from a landlord, you could not be evicted during that period, even if issued with a valid notice of termination.
What were the reasons for the ban?
It was introduced in response to acute rental accommodation shortages and the expected increase in homelessness over the winter.
Did the ban prevent landlords serving notices of termination?
No, landlords could still serve notices to terminate leases where the landlord was selling the property, taking back the property for their own use or use by a family member where the property is owned by a private landlord. The ban simply deferred the notice of termination.
Are there exceptions to the eviction ban?
Yes, landlords can still seek to terminate a lease if a tenant have not paid rent. They must first send a written rent arrears warning notice before issuing a notice of termination giving a tenant 28 days to pay the rent. If a tenant doesn’t pay, a landlord can issue a 28-day notice of termination. Tenants engaging in antisocial behaviour or threatening the fabric of the property are not covered by the ban. In those circumstances, landlords can ask give a tenant just seven days’ notice.
When can tenants now be evicted?
It varies depending on how long a tenant has been living in their rental property and when they received the notice of termination during the period of the eviction ban.
If the notice was issued between October 30th and January 31st last and a tenant has been in the property for less than six months or for between six months and a year, the deferred termination date is May 1st. If the notice was issued between February 1st and March 31st, the deferred termination date will fall on June 18th for renters with a tenancy duration of less than six months giving those on shorter tenancy periods an additional protection.
For renters living in rental properties for six months to a year, the deferred date is June 1st if the notice of termination was issued between February 1st and March 31st.
Where tenants have been living in a property for one to seven years and they received a termination notice between October 30th and January 31st, the deferred date is April 15th.
For the same people who received a notice between February 1st and March 31st, the deferred termination date falls on May 1st at the earliest.
For longer-tenancy renters who have lived in a property for seven years or longer who have received a termination notice during the five-month ban, the deferred termination date is April 1st.
What happens if a tenant does not have a fixed-term tenancy?
A landlord can ask a tenant to leave during the first six months without giving a reason but they must serve a valid written notice of termination and give the usual 90-day minimum notice period. After six months renting in a property, a tenant is entitled to security of tenure rights, the right to stay in rented accommodation for a set amount of time.
On what grounds can a landlord end a tenancy after six months?
A landlord can issue a notice of termination if a tenant is not paying their rent on time or if the landlord intends to sell the property within nine months or needs the property for their own use or for an immediate family member. Landlords can issue a notice if the landlord plans to change the use of the property, from residential to office use for example, or if they intend to refurbish the property substantially.
What kind of length of notice do landlords have to give?
It depends on the length of a tenant’s tenancy, ranging from 90 days if you have been renting for less than six months up to 224 days if a tenant has been living in the property for more than eight years. Landlords and tenants can agree longer notice periods. Much shorter notice periods apply where tenants are not paying rent or where the tenant is engaging in serious antisocial behaviour or threatening to cause damage to the property.
What restrictions are there on big landlords such as investment funds selling up?
Landlords cannot terminate a tenancy of more than six months if they intend to sell 10 or more rental properties in a development within six months unless they can show that the market value with a sitting tenant is more than 20 per cent below the market value where it is vacant and that preventing them ending the tenancy would be unduly onerous on them or cause undue hardship.
What rights do tenants have to challenge their eviction?
If a tenant disputes a notice of termination served on the basis that a tenant had breached their tenancy obligations, that dispute must be referred to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) – the independent body that regulates the residential rental sector and resolves landlord-tenant disputes – within 28 days of the tenant receiving the notice. If the tenant wishes to dispute the termination notice issued for any other reason, such as the landlord wanting to sell up, they must refer any dispute around the notice to the RTB within 90 days.
What penalties apply if a landlord is found to have acted illegally?
An illegal eviction can occur where a landlord through force, intimidation or by cutting off utilities or changing the locks denies a tenant access to their rental property or removes their belongings. If landlords are found to have acted unlawfully by the RTB, they may be directed to allow the tenant back into the property and pay substantial damages. RTB decision-makers have discretion to award up to and including €20,000 in damages.
Stephen Large, eastern regional services manager for Threshold, the charity that advises renters on tenancy problems, said the tenant can seek damages if a landlord ends a tenancy claiming they are selling but do not sell the property, do not offer it back to the tenant and rent it out again at a higher price. Tenants can also report breaches to the RTB investigation and sanctions service which can investigate and fine landlords for breaches, he said.
Can a tenant appeal an eviction notice if the RTB finds it is valid?
No, it is legally binding and can only be appealed to the High Court within 21 days on a point of law.