COVID-19 Emergency Legislation for the Rental Sector

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 was signed into law on 27 March 2020. This legislation takes effect from 27 March 2020 and extends over a period of three months with the option of being extended further by the Government.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has since expressed that this legislation is likely to extend beyond the 3 month period but the decision to extend will be revisited in later weeks.

What the Legislation Changes

Tenancies cannot be terminated

  • During the Covid-19 period no one can be made leave their accommodation. This may include those falling under the definition of tenant and to include those in occupation of Rent a Room/Digs-style accommodation.
  • Landlords/agents cannot issue a Notice of Termination during the Covid-19 period. All termination notices served prior to this period are placed on hold.                           

Exceptions: unless a notice of termination was issued before the emergency period for breach of tenant obligations, and the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has issued a Determination Order in support of the tenancy termination.

  • Any efforts to illegally evict tenants including prohibiting them from accessing the property or disconnecting services can result in damages of up to €20,000.00 being awarded to the tenant. The RTB can seek injunctive action from the courts to reinstate an illegally evicted tenant.

Rents cannot be increased

  • Although tenants are still required to pay rent to their landlords/agents, any increase on rent is prohibited during this period.
  • Rent review notices can be served during this period but cannot take effect until the emergency period has ended and this should be stated in the rent review notice. All rent increase notices served prior to the emergency period are similarly placed on hold. The back dating of rent is prohibited in both instances.
  • 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.
  • A rent decrease is allowed. Should a decrease in rent be agreed, landlords and tenants are advised to clearly set out these conditions in writing and clarify whether this decrease applies to the emergency period only or on a continual, permanent basis.

Rent supplement and Income support are available and tenants are encouraged to engage with their landlords and the Department of Employment and Social Protection at their earliest opportunity should they not be in a position to pay rent.

For more information on the legislation changes, contact Jessica Wilkie, Declan Murphyor your usual contact in OSM Partners.