New protections for tenants in rent arrears and Covid-19 moratorium now expired

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On 2nd August 2020, the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 became law and at the same time, the protections introduced in the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 expired.

Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020

From the 2nd of August 2020, the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 sets out new protections for tenants who have fallen into rent arrears, and as a result, are at risk of losing their tenancy. This Act recognises the impacts of rising unemployment amongst those living in the residential rental sector as a result of Covid-19, and acknowledges the adverse impact on the ability of those impacted to meet their obligations to pay rent.

Tenants who are (or were, during the period from 9th March 2020 to 10th January 2021):

Criteria A

  • temporarily out of work because you contracted Covid-19 and your employer did not have to pay you; OR
  • in receipt of (or entitled to receive) the temporary wage subsidy or any other social welfare payment paid for loss of earnings due to Covid-19 (this includes the rent supplement or a supplementary welfare allowance); AND

Criteria B

  • at risk of losing your tenancy,

can receive additional protections to remain in their tenancy without any increase in rent until 11 January 2021. In order to qualify for these supports, tenants must fill in and sign a Self-Declaration form if they meet the above criteria.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) have services available to tenants to outline the financial supports available to help enable the tenant to receive financial support to assist with the rent arrears and sustain their tenancy.

The RTB is currently working on providing tenants and landlords with further detail and information on this legislation and what the new process will entail. We will update our website shortly with further information.

Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 has expired

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020, which was introduced on 27 March 2020, banned all rent increases and tenancy terminations, with limited exceptions, during the Covid-19 lockdown. This ban expired on 1st August 2020, which means that for all tenants who are not facing rent arrears, the usual protections under the Residential Tenancies Act apply again. For a full overview of the usual rental rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants, please read the RTB’s Good Landlord Tenant Guide here

In summary, the following takes effect from the 2nd of August 2020:

  • Ending a tenancy, using the usual five reasons except for rent arrears, is now permitted. This is as long as the normal rules regarding providing the correct amount of notice period and issuing a Notice of Termination are adhered to.
  • One exception involves tenancies where a Notice of Termination was served before the emergency period under the Covid-19 Act 2020 and the period had not yet expired by the 27th of March 2020. These tenancies cannot end before the 10th of August 2020.
  • For all landlords who served a Notice of Termination before the Covid-19 Act 2020 and had the termination notice period paused, those notice periods now recommence. For instance, if there were 30 days left on a notice period on the 27th of March 2020, from 2nd August, the 30 days can begin to count again.
  • Please note that under the Covid-19 Act 2020, the 6-month period required to establish a ‘Part 4 tenancy’ with the full protections of the Residential Tenancies Acts was paused from 27 March 2020 to 1 August 2020. In other words, if the tenancy had lasted 3 months on the 27th of March 2020, it will still only have lasted 3 months on 2nd August 2020 and would require another 3 months from the 2nd of August to gain Part 4 rights.
  • Rent increases can now take effect. From 2nd August 2020, as long as the usual rent setting and review rules inside and outside a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) are adhered to, rent increases become payable by the tenant with no back-dating permitted
  • Rent decreases continues to be allowed, whether the rent review notice was served before or during the emergency periods under the Covid-19 Act 2020 or the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020.

The RTB is working on further material and information to support landlords and tenants during this time. Please continue to refer back to the RTB website for further information.