The new emergency legislation published on Tuesday night includes measures to safeguard tenancies during the crisis.
Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy has stated that these measures will apply for the duration of the public health crisis.
The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 will amend the operation of the Residential Tenancies Acts. The Emergency period is defined in the bill as being for three months from the legislation coming into effect but can be extended by order. Here’s an overview of the temporary policies laid out in the bill.
No terminations during the crisis
The bill states that “A landlord shall not serve a notice of termination in relation to the tenancy of a dwelling during the emergency period”.
Furthermore, if a landlord has already served a Notice of Termination before the legislation comes into effect with a termination date for the tenancy that is during or after the emergency period a revised termination date will apply. The revised termination date will be the emergency period plus the unexpired period left on the Notice of Termination.
In the event a Notice of Termination has been served and the tenant has remained in the property after the expiration of the notice that tenant will be entitled to remain until the emergency period is over.
Increase to notice period
The notice period for tenants of less than 6 months will also be increased from 28 days to 90 days. Those served with termination notices on their tenancy, who are yet to vacate, are entitled to remain in the dwelling until the emergency period is over. This effectively means that the notice period will be paused for the duration of the crisis.
The bill also outlines that any scheduled increase in rent due to take place during the emergency period will not take effect and will not be payable ‘in respect of any period falling during the emergency period.’
These measures are difficult for landlords but are being introduced in the hopes of complimenting last week’s announcement by the five main retail banks to give industry wide payment breaks for borrowers affected by the economic crises caused by the Coronavirus. These banks have also said that they will support Buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID-19 with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to 3 months.
Tenants are expected to pay rent during this period and all rental arrears will be payable. Tenants are encouraged to contact their landlords as soon as possible if they are in any financial difficulty and see if a temporary solution can be found, such as reduced rental payments. The government have also encouraged tenants to apply for rent supplements from the government if required.
About the author; Emer Murphy, Solicitor, The Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team