The Residential Tenancies Board ("RTB") (formerly PRTB) was established back in 2004 by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. Since 2015 in particular, there has been a steady flow of amendments to this legislation, generally in favour of tenants. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 ("2019 Act") is no different and with some exceptions, strengthens protection for tenants in the rental market. While these changes may be easier to absorb for institutional landlords, they will make life more difficult for non-professional landlords. The content of the legislation should bring no surprises to anyone watching the PRS market. Given the government focus on the sector – due to increased rental levels, lack of availability of quality accommodation and so on - the introduction of sanctions and greater policing powers for the RTB was inevitable.
Some of the changes to be aware of arising from the 2019 Act are as follows:
1. Ending a tenancy
It has always been possible for a landlord to end a tenancy on notice to a tenant in occupation for more than six months, provided certain criteria have been satisfied. These criteria have become more stringent: –
- If terminating a tenancy because a family member is moving in to the property, this must be confirmed by the owner in a statutory declaration (on oath) served with the notice;
- If terminating a tenancy in order to sell the property, the property must be sold (contracted) within 9 months of the expiration of the notice;
- It terminating a tenancy in order to carry out some refurbishment, the notice must set out the details of the planning permission (if required), the name of the contract or (if there is one), the date the works are to be carried out and the duration of the works. Post 4 June 2019, the notice must also attach a certificate from a qualified professional stating that the renovation would pose a threat to the health and safety of occupants if they were to remain in the dwelling, and that the works will take at least three weeks; or
- If terminating in order to change the use of the property e.g from residential to short term let, the notice must attach details of the planning permission granted.
In the event that the family members move out, the property doesn't sell or the use isn't changed, the landlord is obliged to offer the property back to the original tenant (provided the tenant has provided contact details). Post refurbishment, the obligation is likewise.
2. Notice Periods Extended
- a. Since 4 June 2019, the period of notice that a tenant is entitled to receive from a landlord in order to end a tenancy has been changed. The period of notice required should be checked on the RTB website here.
- If an error is made on a termination notice, this is no longer the death knell that it once was. Now, upon the issuance of a Determination Order by the RTB, a correcting notice can be served within 28 days of the Determination Order. This means the whole process does not get thrown out due to human error on the face of the termination notice. There is now an opportunity to rectify matters.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.