New reforms to protect renters and provide greater housing security were announced by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy yesterday.
Under the new government plans landlords who exit tenants because they want to sell or renovate their property or let it to a family member could face tougher sanctions.
These are part of a number of proposals aimed at increasing the rights of tenants in the rental market.
The plans include an extension of the time that Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) are in place until the end of 2021, provisions for the regulation of short-term letting and the expansion of legislation to increase the rights of those living in student accommodation.
Minister Murphy said the proposals were the most significant rental sector reforms in recent years, and would bring greater affordability and security for those in the renal market.
“Not only are we now extending rent controls out to the end of 2021, we are also changing the criteria to capture more areas experiencing high rent inflation, and closing down avenues that allowed some landlords to escape rent controls,” he said.
“In addition, we are strengthening security of tenure provisions for tenants, and also extending notice to quit periods.
“This will help those in housing insecurity while also giving more time for people to find new accommodation where necessary.”
The proposals also introduce new sanctions to tackle improper conduct by landlords who break the provisions under which rental tenancies can be terminated.
Landlords who terminate a tenancy because they intend to sell a property will now have to enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the date of termination, or offer to re-let the property to a former tenant if not.
If a landlord terminates a tenancy because they wish to rent it to a family member, they must offer the property back to the former tenant if it becomes vacant again within a year of the termination date, rather than six months, as is the case under current law.
Meanwhile, landlords who terminate a tenancy because they want to renovate a property must also offer it back to the former tenant when that work is completed.
In this case, a certificate from an architect or surveyor will be also required to state that the proposed works would pose a health and safety risk requiring the property to be vacated, and that the works would require at least three weeks to complete.
Murphy said that the new laws were necessary at a time while a supply challenge existed in the rental sector, which he claimed was developing into a more stable one.
He added: “The reforms as a whole all favour tenants and give them greater protections, but we have to be careful not to undermine the supply of rental homes at the same time; that would only make things worse.”