What it aims to do:
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act (the “2015 Act”) was signed into law on the 4th December 2015. Its aim was to amend and extend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (“the Principal Act”) (as amended) by inserting a number of provisions into the 2015 Act which would aim to do this.
When coming into force:
There are only a number of provisions which have been commenced to date; Part 4 relating to the transfer of the functions of the Rent Tribunal to the Private Residential Tenancies Board has been enacted and provisions providing for a more streamlined mediation service to provide for faster and more efficient resolution of disputes, the separation of the quasi-judicial and governance powers of the Board of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (“PRTB”) and changes to the registration procedures have been implemented. Among other things, the provisions also provide for the repeal of section 126 of the Principal Act which made it an offence to fail to comply with a determination order made by the PRTB under the Principal Act.
Changes for Landlord:
(i) Restriction of rent reviews:
This provision provided there has been an extension of the temporary restriction of the entitlement of a landlord to conduct a rent review to once every two years (previously once every year). This restriction applies until 31st December 2009 when rent reviews can once again be conducted every 12 months.
This extension is retrospective, applying to both new and existing tenancies. For existing tenancies, the two year period for first rent review is counted from the later of (i) the commencement of the tenancy (where no rent review has taken place prior to 4 December 2015) and (ii) the most recent rent review date. The reprieve will depend on when the tenancy was entered into and the date of the most recent rent review.
(ii) Deposit Protection Scheme:
Upon payment of a deposit at the commencement of a tenancy the deposit is to be handed over to the PRTB who will retain the deposit under the deposit protection scheme and return deposits paid by tenants to them. Any interest received from holding deposits by the PRTB is to be retained by them for their own use.
This will undoubtedly have a significant impact for landlords particularly where tenants have fallen into arrears of rent.
Changes for Tenant:
The notice period to which is tenant is entitled before a new rent can take effect has been increased from 28 days to 90 days.
The notice periods for the termination of tenancies have been expanded where there has been occupation of between 4 and 8 years. Tenants who have been in occupation for 8 years or more will now require a notice period of 224 days which has not yet been enacted.
Steps for client to watch:
Both Landlords and Tenants need to be aware of the expansion of the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board to tenancies created by not-for-profit Approved Housing Bodies involved in the provision of social housing;
Landlords will need to include in a notice for increase of rent, certain evidence that proposed rent increases are appropriate and in line with the local market rate and to inform tenants of their rights to challenge rent increases; and a requirement for landlords to include with a notice for termination of a tenancy, certain evidence of the grounds for termination.
There are new provisions governing disputes and provisions for determination orders concerning tenancy terminations to be dealt with by the District Court instead of the Circuit Court in order to reduce time and cost involved in the resolution of disputes. The monetary limit of the jurisdiction of the District Court shall not apply for these proceedings and shall be the same as the Circuit Court (currently €75,000).
Once the various provisions are enacted we will analyse the Act here.