The emergency legislation introduced on 27 March 2020 has brought restrictions to increasing rent amounts during the emergency period. An overview of the related key changes introduced can be found below, followed by a list 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.
- All rent increases are prohibited from 27 March 2020 until 1 August 2020. This period may be extended further by Government Order, if necessary.
- Tenants are still required to pay rent to their landlord during the 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.
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 below in the last FAQ.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can a landlord serve a notice of rent review during the emergency period?
- The landlord served the tenant with a notice of rent increase and it was due to come into effect during the emergency period. Is the tenant still required to pay the new rent?
- Why do tenants still have to pay rent when landlords are getting a mortgage holiday?
- Can landlords decrease the rent during the emergency period?
Yes, they can. The 90 days’ notice for a rent review can count down during the emergency period and if the 90 days’ notice falls after the emergency period is over, the tenant pays the increased amount as normal. However, if the end of the 90 days’ notice falls within the emergency period, the tenant will not be required to pay the new rental amount until after the emergency period is over.
No notified rent increase can come into effect during the emergency period. However, it can take effect from the first day after the emergency period ends. A tenant is not expected to pay an increase in rent during this period.
The full amount of money borrowed by your landlord will have to be re-paid. The repayment arrangements may be changed to offer flexibility during the COVID-19 emergency period. We would encourage landlords availing of a mortgage holiday to offer similar flexibility to tenants in difficulty.
The RTB would encourage parties, where possible, to discuss matters and attempt to come to an informal arrangement for this emergency period. The law requires that tenants continue to pay their rent during the emergency period. However, it is open to landlords and tenants to come to an arrangement between themselves regarding a reduction in rent, rent deferral plan or a payment plan to deal with rent arrears.
While the RTB cannot be specific in respect of the terms of informal arrangements, if the parties agree to come to an informal arrangement regarding a reduction in rent, rent deferral plan or a payment plan to deal with rent arrears then it is important that they are clear on exactly what is being agreed. For example, if entering into a payment plan for rent arrears, parties should attempt to agree a timeframe for when the monies are payable. If agreeing a reduction in rent or rent deferral payment plan, the parties should clearly agree whether it is intended that the rent reduction or rent deferral payment plan is for this emergency period or on a more permanent basis. For instance, if a landlord and tenant agree a rent reduction arrangement and it is for an interim period only, then the parties should be clear that the arrangement does not constitute a rent review. The RTB recommends that any rent reduction arrangements are set out in writing, which can be by way of email, and include the following details (this is not an exhaustive list):
- The amount of the current rent;
- The amount of the rent that the tenant and landlord have agreed is payable;
- Whether the balance of the rent remains payable;
- A time period for the reduced rent. This time period can be extended or reduced by agreement between the parties; and
- Confirmation (if applicable) that it is not a formal rent review process but instead an informal arrangement in light of Covid-19.