Government approves series of emergency measures to protect tenants

Thursday, March 19th 2020

The Government has today (Thursday 19th March) approved a series of emergency measures to protect tenants who have been impacted by Covid 19. Moratoriums on evictions and rent increases are being introduced for the duration of the Covid 19 emergency, to ensure people can stay in their homes during this period. The notice period for tenancies of less than six months is also being increased from 28 to 90 days.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, intends to publish legislation next week to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004-2019 to give effect to these changes.

The emergency measures being announced today complement those announced by the 5 main retail banks yesterday, in relation to the flexibility – such as 3 month mortgage breaks – which will be offered to those with buy-to-let mortgages whose tenants have been impacted by the virus. It is the Government’s expectation that landlords will pass that flexibility on their tenants. Tenants are encouraged to engage with their landlords as quickly as possible if they are facing difficulties.

While tenants will be expected to pay rent during this period, income supports and Rent Supplement is available to those struggling to do so. These supports are provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Any rent arrears built up will be payable, but landlords have been asked to show forbearance and reach local arrangements in such circumstances.

Speaking today Minister Murphy said:

“I know that many people who are renting are worried about their living situation. I want to assure them that over the emergency period they will be able to remain in their homes. Today the government approved new measures to give the strongest possible protection to all renters at this time of national emergency. A moratorium on notices to leave rental accommodation is being introduced as is a moratorium on rent increases so that people will be safe in their homes during this period.

“I am aware that some renters will find it very difficult to pay the rent due to the impact that COVID 19 is having on businesses and jobs. There are supports in place for people through the Rent Supplement. Yesterday’s announcement of forbearance by the banks, which I welcome, will also assist tenants in seeking support from their landlords. Early engagement by tenants in difficulty, both with their landlords and with Social Protection is key. I would like to thank the landlord and tenant organisations for their engagement and support in these measures. Notwithstanding this it is only prudent to put these temporary measures in to law, which I intend to do with the support of the Oireachtas next week.”

Today’s announcement follows intensive engagement in recent days by Minister Murphy with both landlords and tenants organisations, as well as charities and NGOs in the housing sector. The changes being drafted will be temporary in nature, and will last for the duration of the COVID 19 crisis, after which point residential tenancies will revert to the current legislative arrangements.

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