Ending a Tenancy and Notices of Termination During the Emergency Period

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 the changes related to restrictions to ending a tenancy.

The emergency legislation introduced on 27 March 2020 has brought restrictions to ending a tenancy during the emergency period. An overview of the related key changes introduced can be found below, followed by a series of Frequently Asked Questions based on different scenarios to help provide an understanding of the effects of the legislation. If your particular scenario is not addressed below, please contact us on our Web Chat facility, our website contact form or by email here.

Key changes

  • The emergency legislation takes effect from 27 March 2020 and continues until 1st August 2020. This period can be extended by Government Order, if necessary.
  • 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; the tenant cannot be told to leave their rented accommodation during this time.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a landlord serve their tenant with a notice of termination now?

No, a landlord cannot serve a notice of termination during the emergency period – this has been banned for the duration of the emergency period.

However, a landlord is still allowed to serve their tenant with a warning notice if their tenant is in rent arrears or otherwise failing to fulfil their obligations.

Sample warning notices can be viewed on the RTB website here.  

The tenant was served with a notice of termination before the emergency period and the notice expired before the emergency period started. The tenant still has not left the property. Does the tenant have to leave the rental property?

If a tenant is still living in the rental property and has failed to leave on the termination date that was written on the notice of termination, and the landlord still wants the property back, the landlord must lodge a dispute resolution case with the RTB. The RTB will then determine the validity of the served notice of termination. Dispute resolution cases can take in excess of 16 weeks to conclude.

If the notice of termination is found to be valid by the RTB, then the tenant would have to leave the rental accommodation.

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here, and information on the current RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

A notice of termination was served to a tenant before the emergency legislation was introduced, and the tenancy termination (tenancy end) date falls during the emergency period. Is the tenant still required to leave the rental property?

No, apart from where the RTB issues a Determination Order supporting the termination of the tenancy for breach of tenant obligations. All notices of termination issued before the emergency period, and that were due to fall within this period, are currently paused. 

If a landlord served a notice of termination before the emergency period, any days that fall within the emergency period do not count towards the required notice period. For example, where the notice period is 28 days, and 8 days have already passed before the beginning of the emergency period (27th March) then, on conclusion of the emergency period, the tenant will still have a further 20 days’ notice before they have to leave their rental accommodation. 

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here, and information on the current RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

A notice of termination was served to the tenant, but the termination (tenancy end) date is not until July. Will that termination date remain the same?

No, all notices of termination that are ongoing during the emergency period are paused. The entire emergency period will not be counted as part of the notice period. For example, if a landlord served a notice of termination giving a tenant 196 days’ notice to leave the rental accommodation before the emergency period, and 90 of the 196 days’ notice have already passed when the COVID-19 emergency commenced on 27 March 2020, then the rest of the days in the notice period are paused. When the emergency period ends, the tenant will have the remaining 106 days to leave the rental accommodation. 

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here, and information on the current RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

A tenant falls into rent arrears during the emergency period (is unable to pay or is late in paying their rent). Can a landlord still serve a warning notice if the rent remains unpaid?

If a tenant is in rent arrears, a landlord can serve their tenant with a warning notice (a notice outlining the rent arrears and giving the tenant a reasonable amount of time to pay the rent owed). However, the landlord is not allowed to serve a notice of termination until the emergency period is over. The RTB would encourage landlords and tenants to communicate during the emergency period to see if a resolution can be found before serving the warning notice.

There have also been changes to the process of serving a warning notice within the emergency legislation. If the tenancy has lasted less than 6 months, landlords must now provide their tenant with a 28-day warning notice to pay the rent owed, instead of the usual 14 days. This is to allow tenants to seek income support if needed.

Where a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months, the landlord is still required to provide a tenant with a reasonable amount of notice to pay the rent owed. The RTB would ask that landlords consider the COVID-19 emergency impacts and the difficulties their tenants may be facing when considering what equates to a reasonable amount of notice.

Sample warning notices can be viewed on the RTB website here.

The landlord served a rent arrears warning notice followed by a notice of termination for rent arrears before the emergency period, and the termination (tenancy end) date is due to fall during the emergency period. Does the tenant have to leave the rental property?

No, all notices of termination are suspended during the emergency period. However, tenants must continue to pay rent and observe the other normal terms and conditions of their lease.

A landlord may take a case to the RTB if they wish to have the validity of the notice of termination and any arrears ruled on. In such limited and exceptional circumstances, an eviction can be enforced during COVID-19.

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here.

The landlord served an anti-social behaviour warning notice followed by a notice of termination before the emergency period, and the termination (tenancy end) date is due to fall during the emergency period. Does the tenant have to leave the rental property?

No, all notices of termination are suspended during the emergency period. However, tenants must continue to pay rent and observe the other normal terms and conditions of their lease.

A landlord may take a case to the RTB if they wish and have the validity of the notice of termination and any breach of tenant obligations ruled on; in such limited and exceptional circumstances, an eviction can be enforced during COVID-19.

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here.

The tenant is engaging in anti-social behaviour during the emergency period. Can the landlord serve a notice of termination to end the tenancy?

No, a notice of termination cannot be served during the emergency period. However, tenants must continue to pay rent and observe the other normal terms and conditions of their lease.

The RTB would encourage landlords and tenants to communicate with each other during the emergency period to see if a resolution can be found. The RTB is also still operating its free telephone mediation service should landlords and tenants need help resolving a dispute during the emergency period. More information can be found here.

If necessary, the Garda Síochána should be contacted to safeguard the local community and property.

Further information on the RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

The tenant has received a notice of termination during the emergency period stating that the landlord wishes to sell the rental property. Is this notice valid?

No, landlords are not allowed to serve any notices of termination during the emergency period.

Tenants should contact their landlord to inform them of the emergency legislation and that notices of termination cannot be served starting from 27 March 2020 until 20 July 2020. If an issue persists, the tenant can contact the RTB to lodge a dispute resolution case, if required, here.

Sample notices of termination can be viewed here, and information on the current RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

The tenant has been living in the rental property for five months and the landlord wants to end the tenancy before it becomes a Part 4 tenancy. When the emergency period ends, will the tenant now have Part 4 rights?

No, in such circumstances, the passage of time during the COVID-19 emergency period pauses, and the tenancy picks up again after the emergency period is over. If the tenant was 5 months into their tenancy at the start of the emergency period, they will remain so when the emergency period formally comes to an end. The conditions under which the tenancy can be terminated remain unchanged after the emergency period. For more information on what a Part 4 tenancy is, please visit the RTB website here

The tenant is about to move into a Further Part 4 tenancy and the landlord wants to end the tenancy before the Further Part 4 tenancy begins. When the emergency period ends, will the tenant have moved into the Further Part 4 tenancy period?  

No, in such circumstances, the passage of time during the COVID-19 emergency period pauses, and the tenancy picks up again after the emergency period ends. If the tenant was 3.5 years into their tenancy at the start of the emergency period, they will remain so when the emergency period formally comes to an end. The conditions under which the tenancy can be terminated remain unchanged after the emergency period. For more information on what a Further Part 4 tenancy is, please visit the RTB website here

What can a tenant do if their landlord tells them to move due to COVID-19 fears?

A landlord is not allowed to serve a tenant with a notice of termination during the emergency period.

To end a tenancy, a landlord must send a valid notice of termination to the tenant. To be valid, the notice must be in writing and state why the tenancy is ending. If the tenancy has lasted for 6 months or more, a landlord must use one of 6 permitted reasons to end a tenancy, such as the landlord wishes to sell, or a family member wishes to move back in. For more information on the 6 permitted reasons to end a tenancy which normally apply outside of the emergency period, please visit the RTB website here

COVID-19 is not a permitted reason to end a tenancy under the law, and a notice of termination cannot be issued during the emergency period.

Sample notices of termination can be viewed on the RTB website here, and information on the current RTB Dispute Resolution Service can be found here.

Can a tenant in shared private rental accommodation move out of the property early without losing their deposit?  

The RTB encourages landlords and tenants to communicate as early as possible if an issue arises within a tenancy or circumstances change to see if the issue could be mutually resolved.

Tenants who wish to leave a tenancy early must serve their landlord with a valid notice of termination, in writing, providing the appropriate amount of notice.

There is also an option to end the tenancy if you have signed a fixed term tenancy agreement. A tenant living in the private rental sector can end a fixed-term tenancy by getting permission from the landlord to assign or sublet the tenancy. If the landlord agrees, the tenant can find a replacement for themselves and leave. If the landlord refuses the offer, the tenant can then serve a valid written notice of termination (this does not apply to Approved Housing Bodies & student specific accommodation).

Therefore, once the tenant follows the steps as set out above and ends the tenancy in the correct manner, they would be entitled to a return of any pre-paid rent from the date which they left the tenancy.

In a house share, if one tenant moves out, can the landlord move a new tenant in?

Such letting activity should not occur during the COVID-19 emergency period as it has not been deemed essential by Government. The temporary restriction on the movement of people aims to halt the spread of the disease.

A tenant has lost their job due to COVID-19 and the income supports are not enough to cover their rent. What can the tenant do?

The RTB encourages landlords and tenants to communicate as early as possible if an issue arises within a tenancy or circumstances change to see if the issue could be mutually resolved. Information on income supports available can be found here.

If the landlord and tenant are unable to resolve the issue to their mutual satisfaction, a landlord is allowed to serve a warning notice during the emergency period stating that the tenant must pay the rent owed but forbearance is encouraged during COVID-19. 

If the tenancy has lasted less than 6 months, landlords must now provide their tenant with a 28-day warning notice to pay the rent owed, instead of the usual 14 days.

Where a tenancy has lasted over 6 months, the landlord is still required to provide a tenant with a reasonable amount of notice to pay the rent owed. The RTB would ask that landlords consider the COVID-19 emergency impacts and the difficulties their tenants may be facing when considering what equates to a reasonable amount of notice.

If after the landlord served the warning notice and the tenant has still not paid the rent owed, the landlord can serve the tenant with a notice of termination, but only after the emergency period has ended.  

Sample warning notices can be viewed here.

A landlord is having difficulties with paying the mortgage on their rental property due to COVID-19. Is there any help for landlords?

Any landlord facing potential difficulties in making loan repayments because of COVID-19 is advised to contact their bank or credit servicer as early as possible. All of the existing protections for customers who face actual or potential financial difficulties continue to apply. Banks, retail credit and credit servicing firms will introduce 3-month payment breaks on mortgages, personal loans and business loans for some business and personal customers affected by COVID-19.

Does the temporary pause of issuing notices of termination also apply to tenants?

No, if a tenant wishes to leave his or her rental accommodation, they can still end the tenancy by serving a valid notice of termination. Notice periods for tenants can be found here

Click here for the overview of all changes introduced by the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020.

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

Click here for more details 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.