Lots of new regulations and changes to the Residential Tenancies Act have been signed into law and are effective from Tuesday, June 4th 2019. Here is a quick summary of the changes that are now effective:
New Notice of termination obligations & procedures
If the landlord requires the property for themselves or their family member.
They must now offer the property back to the tenant that vacated if it comes available within 12 months of the expiry of the notice period (previously 6 months).
If the landlord wishes to end the tenancy if they intend to sell the property.
The landlord now has 9 months from the termination date to sell the property (previously 3 months)
The landlord must now offer the property back to the tenant that vacated if it comes available within 12 months of the expiry of the notice period if it comes available to rent again.
Substantial refurbishment of the property.
A written certificate is now required from a registered professional stating that the proposed refurbishment or renovation works would pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants of the dwelling concerned and should not proceed while the dwelling is occupied, and that such a risk is likely to exist for such period as is specified in the certificate which shall not be less than 3 weeks.
The law now states that a landlord must offer the property back to the original tenant on completion of the works.
New Notice Periods Introduced
Changes to the legislation effective from 4th June 2019 have extended notice periods which a landlord must provide to a tenant when serving them with a notice of termination. Here are the new notice periods:
Introduction of Remedial Notices
This has been introduced to aid landlords and tenants. They can now remedy an original notice served to fix a defect identified by the RTB Adjudicator or Tribunal.
So simply put, if a notice is deemed invalid by the RTB because of an insufficient notice period, a landlord or tenant does not need to start the process over again. They can serve a 28 day notice + the number of days they had been incorrect by. Ie. the Landlord is now entitled to serve a 28 day + the 3 days he was short = 31 days’ notice
Rent Pressure Zone Exemption: A substantial change in the nature of the accommodation.
A ‘substantial change’ in the nature of the accommodation has been defined in the legislation and will only be deemed to have taken place where the below criteria is met:
Build a permanent extension to the dwelling that increases the floor area by an amount equal to not less than 25% of the existing floor area of the property.
The works carried out result in the BER rating being improved by not less than 7 building energy ratings.
or any 3 or more of the following:
a) the internal layout of the dwelling being permanently altered
b) the dwelling being adapted to provide for access and use by a person with a disability
c) a permanent increase in the number of rooms in a dwelling
d) The works carried out on a property that has a current BER rating of D1 or lower, result in the BER rating being improved by not less than 3 building energy ratings.
The works carried out on a property that has a current BER rating of C3 or higher, result in the BER rating being improved by not less than 2 building energy ratings.
Rent Pressure Zone Exemption: A property which has not been rented in 2 years or more.
The initial setting of the rent on a dwelling which had not been rented for a period of two years prior to the immediate tenancy commencement date. All rent reviews thereafter must adhere to the Rent Pressure Zone formula.
Further changes still to come
Student Accommodation* not yet commenced
Landlords who provide residential accommodation to students during academic term time will come under the remit of the RTB. Landlords and student tenants will now have access to the RTB’s dispute resolution service and will have certain rights and responsibilities however there are some differences between student tenancies and other private rented tenancies.
Sanctions and Investigations functions* not yet commenced
The new Act provides the RTB with more effective powers to directly regulate the rental sector, particularly in relation to Rent Pressure Zones and associated Rent Exemptions, and in relation to Notice of Terminations. The legislation sets out a complaints, investigations and sanctions process that will allow the RTB to proactively monitor and enforce the legislation, in relation to these three key areas.
The introduction of these new powers of investigation and the related sanctions regime, give the RTB a more active and direct regulatory role in the rental sector and will allow the RTB to support landlords in complying with the legislation.
The changes introduced in the new Act, allows the RTB to investigate, with or without a complaint, potential breaches (“improper conduct”). These potential breaches will be investigated by the RTB and where it is found “improper conduct” has occurred, the RTB can apply a caution or a sanction on a landlord of up to €15,000. It is important to note that the sanctions regime allows proportionality to be applied to potential breaches and offers landlords the opportunity to acknowledge the breach at an early stage.
The RTB has the powers to proactively conduct its own investigations, but the RTB will be able to accept information from any members of the public and/or organisations who wish to report a suspected breach as described above.
Annual registration* not yet commenced
Landlords will be required to register their tenancies on an annual basis on the anniversary of the date the tenancy commenced.