It is important that at all times rent is paid and where it is not, it is a breach of the tenancy agreement.
If a landlord wants to end a tenancy because of rent arrears and the tenant has been renting the property for more than 6 months then the 6-step process set out below must be followed.
6-step process for landlords and tenants in a rent arrears
The following 6-step process outlines the new rules and requirements established in the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020, relating to tenancy terminations due to rent arrears.
Failure to adhere to these steps will lead to a Notice of Termination being deemed invalid.
The RTB encourages tenants and landlords to communicate any issues with rent arrears as early as possible to try to rectify the arrears and prevent the ending of the tenancy.
Step 1: A landlord must issue a warning notice to the tenant to pay back the rent arrears
Where a tenant has fallen into rent arrears, they should contact their landlord to see if the issue can be resolved or a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.
Please see further information and examples of agreement templates to aid tenants and landlords in reaching their own payment plans here.
If it is not possible to resolve the issue of arrears, the landlord can proceed to serve a written rent arrears warning notice to give the tenant a minimum of 28 days to pay the rent arrears.
A landlord must serve a written rent arrears warning notice; an email or text message will not suffice. The warning notice must set out the full amount of rent arrears owed by the tenant and explain that failure to pay 100% of the rent owed within the time provided will result in a Notice of Termination being served.
The RTB has a sample warning notice for rent arrears to support landlords which can be found here. The RTB would strongly encourage that you use this notice.
Step 2: Landlords must serve a copy of the written rent arrears warning notice to the RTB
Landlords must provide a copy of the 28-day written rent arrears warning notice that was served on the tenant to the RTB. The 28-day period will count from the date the RTB or tenant receives the warning notice - whichever is later - so landlords are encouraged to send both notices at the same time.
Please note that failure to submit a copy of the warning notice to the RTB will invalidate any related Notice of Termination.
Step 3: RTB will write to the landlord and tenant upon receipt of the warning notice
The RTB will write to the landlord acknowledging receipt of the written rent arrears warning notice and will provide information on the new landlord rights.
The RTB will also write to the tenant confirming that the RTB received a copy of the written rent arrears warning notice that was served on them. In writing to the tenant, the RTB will provide information as will enable the tenant to obtain advice from MABS and will also ask the tenant to give his or her consent to refer the tenant to MAB’s.
Where a tenant grants consent to the RTB, the RTB will assist the tenant in obtaining MABS advice. Tenants are not obliged to complete this step, but engagement with MABS is recommended. It is hoped that the majority of tenancy arrears situations will be resolved at this stage in the process.
Step 4: Service of Notice of Termination
If the landlord has followed step 1-3 and the tenant has not re-paid the rent arrears in full within the 28 days, the landlord can proceed to serve a 28-day Notice of Termination. They can serve this once the 28-day warning notice has expired.
Step 5: Landlords must serve a copy of the Notice of Termination to the RTB
A landlord must also send a copy of the Notice of Termination they have served on their tenant for rent arrears to the RTB (by email to email@example.com or by post) on the same day they serve it on their tenant. Please note that if the landlord does not send the copy of the Notice of Termination to both the tenant and RTB, the Notice of Termination will be invalid.
Sample Notice of Termination for rent arrears can be found here.
Please note if you were availing of protections under the PDRTA they expired on the 13th January. Find out what that means for you here
Step 6: RTB will contact the tenant informing them of their resolution options
Upon receipt of the Notice of Termination for rent arrears, the RTB shall notify the tenant in writing of his or her right to refer a tenancy termination dispute to the RTB for resolution within 28 days of receipt of the Notice of Termination. Tenants will also be reminded of their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended regarding rental payments.
Tenants should ensure to keep copies of notices received.
It is important that correct notice periods are given. The first day of a notice period is the day after the notice is served. Therefore if the notice is served on a Monday the period of notice commences from the Tuesday. The notice periods required depend on the length of the tenancy and the reason for issuing the notice in some circumstance. Whilst not a specific requirement under the legislation, it may be prudent to give an additional couple of days notice to ensure that the tenant receives the required notice period. See our Sample Notices of Termination page here.
Submitting a rent arrears case when the tenant has vacated
You can pursue a case against a tenant who has vacated by submitting a dispute resolution application. If you are not in possession of a current address for the tenant, please provide a PPS number for the tenant when submitting your application. The RTB will make every effort to source a current contact address for the tenant by searching our own registration database, and other government approved databases but please be aware that if a tenant has moved to a new location it may take a number of weeks before the new address is updated on the data base.
The RTB prioritise cases where there are rent arrears. A landlord can submit a dispute application to the RTB for rent arrears. The landlord can also serve a notice of termination for breach of tenants responsibilities.
A tenant must continue to pay their rent in full until the tenancy ends and while any disputes are ongoing. Where a dispute has arisen between a tenant and landlord and it has failed to be resolved, a dispute can be referred to the RTB. If a tenant has withheld payment of rent in this instance, they should recommence paying rent and wait for the dispute to be heard.
If the tenant is in receipt of Rent Supplement and is not paying rent then the Community Welfare Service for the area should be contacted to have the supplement suspended until the case is heard.