COVID-19 Emergency Legislation for the Rental Sector

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020 was signed into law on 27 March 2020. This page provides an overview of what these changes mean for the rental sector.

What are the key changes?

  • The emergency legislation applies to all tenancies which fall under the Residential Tenancies Act, this includes Approved Housing Bodies, Student Specific and Private Rented Accommodation. The emergency legislation also applies to Rent-a-Room and Digs-style accommodation.
  • The emergency legislation takes effect from 27 March 2020 and continues until 20 July 2020. This period can be extended by Government Order, if necessary.

No one can be made to leave their accommodation (other than in limited and exceptional circumstances where a breach of tenant obligations takes place and an RTB Determination Order is sourced through the dispute resolution process).

  • Tenants do not have to leave their rental accommodation during the COVID-19 emergency period unless a notice of termination was issued before the emergency period, and the RTB issues a Determination Order supporting the tenancy termination for breach of tenant obligations.
  • A notice of termination cannot be served during the COVID-19 emergency period. All notices of termination which were served before the emergency period and fall within this period, are paused; a tenant cannot be told to leave their rented accommodation during this time.
  • For FAQs related to restrictions around ending a tenancy during the COVID-19 emergency period, please click here.

Please be aware that carrying out an illegal eviction, which includes prohibiting access to the property or making the property uninhabitable by disconnecting services, can result in damages of up to €20,000 being awarded to the tenant. The RTB can seek an injunction from the Courts to reinstate the tenant and will continue to prioritise these cases during the emergency period.

Rents cannot be increased

  • Rent increases are prohibited during the COVID-19 emergency period. 
  • Tenants are still required to pay rent to their landlord during this emergency period.
  • All notices of rent review that notify a rent increase, which were served before the emergency period and were due to start during this period, cannot take effect until the emergency period ends; the tenant is not required to pay the increased amount of rent during the emergency period and no backdating of rent may apply.
  • Rent review notices can be served as usual during the emergency period, but they cannot take effect until after the emergency period is over. This should be stated in any rent review notice and no backdating of rent may apply. 
  • When setting rent for a new tenancy, any higher amount which gives regard to rent setting rules (e.g. RPZ 12 month/24 month outside RPZ), will only become payable after the emergency period is over. 
  • Tenants are encouraged to engage with their landlords and the Department of Employment and Social Protection at their earliest opportunity if they cannot afford to pay their rent. Income supports and Rent Supplement are available for those struggling to do so.
  • Further information on these supports can be found in the Government of Ireland Guidance Document here, by calling the DEASP Income Support Helpline for COVID-19 1890 800 024 or visiting the DEASP website here. Please note the RTB does not manage these income supports.  
  • For FAQs related to the prohibition of rent increases during the emergency period, please click here

Please note that a rent decrease is allowed, whether the rent review notice was served before or during the COVID-19 emergency period. Landlords and tenants can come to an informal agreement themselves regarding a reduction in rent. If they decide to do so, parties should clearly agree the conditions in writing and whether this is intended as a rent reduction for the emergency period or a more permanent basis. Further information can be found in the FAQ here.

Rent a Room & 'Digs' Accommodation included in legislation 

  • The emergency legislation states that all proposed evictions are prohibited, including Rent-a-Room and Digs-style accommodation. Property owners and anyone renting in such circumstances are asked to show forbearance and support for each other during the emergency period and, where possible, have regard to the precautions necessary to tackle COVID-19, to avoid ending accommodation arrangements.  

Click here for more details and an FAQ on how the new legislation affects ending a tenancy and notices of termination.

Click here for more details and an FAQ on how the new legislation affects rent reviews.

Click here for more details and an FAQ on how the new legislation affects Student Specific Accommodation.

Click the links for more details on the DEASP COVID-19 income supports and Rent Supplement available for landlords and tenants during the emergency period.

Click here for more details on the RTB’s services during the emergency period.

Click here for more details on the RTB’s Dispute Resolution Services during the emergency period.