On 1st August 2020, the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 introduced new measures and protections for those facing rent arrears. Below is an 8-step process which outlines the new rules and requirements for both landlords and tenants. Failure to complete each step as set out below will lead to a Notice of Termination being deemed invalid.
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 monies owed within the time provided will result in a Notice of Termination being served.
A sample warning notice for rent arrears is available for download here.
Step 2: Landlords must serve a copy of the written rent arrears warning notice to the RTB
There is a new responsibility for landlords to provide a copy of the 28-day written rent arrears warning notice that was served on the tenant to the RTB. When issuing a warning notice, a landlord must send a copy to the RTB as soon as possible. The 28-day period will count from the date when both the tenant and the RTB have received the warning notice, so landlords are encouraged to send both notices at the same time.
A copy of the warning notice should be submitted to the RTB by email at email@example.com.
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.
The RTB will also write to the tenant confirming that the RTB received a copy of the written rent arrears warning notice. The RTB will also seek consent from the tenant to help them receive Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) advice, as well as providing them with a link to the Self-Declaration form should they need to use it, in its communication with the tenant (please see Step 5 for more information).
The tenant will be encouraged to contact the RTB as soon as possible prior to the warning notice running its course or they may face the termination of their tenancy.
Step 4: Tenant provides consent to the RTB to assist them in obtaining MABS Advice
Where a tenant grants consent to the RTB, the RTB will assist the tenant in obtaining MABS advice.
Step 5: Where applicable, the tenant completes and submits a Self-Declaration form to the RTB and sends a copy to their landlord
New protections are in place until the 10th January 2021 under the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 for tenants who are currently, or were at any stage from 9th March 2020 to 10th January 2021, unable to pay their rent due to Covid-19 and as a consequence, are at significant risk of having their tenancy ended. These protections came into effect on 2nd August 2020.
If the tenant meets the criteria below, they are not required to vacate their accommodation or pay an increase in rent during the period up to 10th of January 2021.
In order to avail of these protections, tenants must meet Criteria A and B:
- in receipt of (or entitled to receive) Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absence, during the period of 9 March 2020 to 10 January 2021; OR
- in receipt of (or entitled to receive) during the period of 9 March 2020 to 10 January 2021;
- the Temporary Wage Subsidy, Employment Wage Subsidy or
- any other social welfare payment or State support paid as a result of loss of earnings due to Covid-19, (this includes the rent supplement or a supplementary welfare allowance); AND
- are at risk of losing their tenancy.
A tenant meeting the above criteria can fill out the Self-Declaration form and benefit from the new protections. The Self-Declaration form can be found here.
The tenant must send the original copy of the Self-Declaration form to the RTB at firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 47, Clonakilty, County Cork. The tenant must also post a true copy of the original declaration to their landlord. The RTB would recommend the use of certified or registered post unless the landlord consents to the declaration being sent electronically. Tenants are strongly advised to keep a copy of the form for their records and as evidence of its submission to the RTB and their landlord.
Once received, the RTB will issue an acknowledgement letter to both the tenant and the landlord on receipt of the Self-Declaration.
If you are in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme the RTB would encourage that you send a copy of the RTB acknowledgement letter of your Self Declaration form to your local authority.
Step 6: Service of Notice of Termination
A. Landlord who has not received a Self-Declaration form from their tenant: If a tenant has not sent the landlord a Self-Declaration form setting out that their rent arrears are a direct consequence of Covid-19, the landlord can proceed to serve a Notice of Termination for rent arrears once the 28-day warning notice has expired.
A sample Notice of Termination for rent arrears is available to download here.
By law from the 2nd August 2020 to 10th January 2021, if Notices of Termination are served on tenants who:
- have not paid rent arrears during the minimum 28-day warning period, or
- have not submitted a self-declaration form to their landlord & the RTB,
the termination notice period is a minimum of 28 days.
B. Landlord who has received a Self-Declaration form from their tenant: If a tenant has submitted their Self-Declaration form to the landlord confirming that Covid-19 has impacted their ability to pay rent, that tenancy cannot be terminated until 11 January 2021 and the tenant must be given a 90 day notice period. Please note that it is still open to a landlord to serve a valid Notice of Termination from 2nd August onwards, however, the termination date must reflect a date on or after 11th January 2021.
A sample Notice of Termination for rent arrears is available to download here.
Please also note that where a landlord has received a Self-Declaration from their tenant, no rent increase can take effect until the day after the expiry of the emergency period – i.e. 11th January 2021.
Step 7: Landlords must serve a copy of the Notice of Termination to the RTB
There is a new obligation on landlords to serve the Notice of Termination on their tenant and to send a copy of it to the RTB on the same day. The requirement to send the copy on the same day applies from 2nd August onwards and applies specifically to Notices of Termination based on rent arrears only. 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.
Step 8: 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 apply for dispute resolution with the RTB regarding the Notice of Termination, 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 regarding rental payments.
Tenants should ensure to keep copies of notices received, a copy of the Self-Declaration form, proof that it was issued to their landlord and to the RTB, and any relevant MABS advice.
RTB Disputes Resolution Services
If you are unable to resolve your tenancy related issues, after following all the steps of this procedure, you can apply for dispute resolution with the RTB. The RTB would advise that parties use the online dispute application services during this time as it is the fastest and most convenient manner to apply for dispute resolution.
The RTB offers a free telephone mediation service, which is the fastest form of dispute resolution offered by the RTB, with a high success rate for agreements.