As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, August 2020 brought with it more changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. The 2020 Act provides modified protections for certain tenants to replace those introduced under initial covid-19 emergency legislation.
The Act also ensures that the Residential Tenancies Board must be on notice and involved at the outset with proposals to terminate tenancies generally for non-payment of rent.
The responsibility is on the Landlord to understand how these changes apply in practice for the limited period of their application. Landlords also need to quickly adapt to the procedural changes introduced. It is vitally important that you are up to date and aware of any changes.
The Act sets out new protections for tenants who have fallen into rent arrears, and as a result, are at risk of losing their tenancy. These tenants can receive additional protections to remain in their tenancy without any increase in rent until 11 January 2021. To qualify for these supports, tenants must fill in and sign a Self-Declaration form if they meet the below criteria.
- Tenants who are or were, during the period from 9th March 2020 to 10th January 2021 temporarily out of work because they contracted Covid-19 and their employer did not have to pay them;
- 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 at risk of losing their tenancy,
Please click HERE for further information regarding the New Rent Arrears Process
Rent increases can 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. It may be easier to commence the variation from the next rent due date.
Terminating A Tenancy
Terminating a tenancy for the following reasons is now permitted: –
- Breach (Some rent arrears situations are protected)
- Need property for yourself or a member of your family# Substantial refurbishment
- Change of use
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. However, no tenancy can end before the 10th of August 2020.
Under the Covid-19 Act 2020, the 6-month period required to establish a ‘Part 4 tenancy’ was paused from 27 March 2020 to 1 August 2020. 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. Where a landlord has kept the right to terminate during the probationary period, that right can be exercised.