The gradual commencement of the amendments introduced by the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”) continued in May with the following provisions announced by the then Acting Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly. The latest amendments relate to:
1. Rent Reviews
The balance of the provisions of the 2015 Act which amend the rent review process were commenced as of 9 May 2016 and a new prescribed form for issuing a notice of a rent review was also introduced. There was no prescribed form for such a notice previously, although the legislation had stipulated some minimum levels of information which had to be communicated at the time the new rent was being proposed. Now, this information has been incorporated into the prescribed notice (which must be used) along with:
- A statement that any dispute as to the new rent must be referred to the either within 28 days of receipt of the notice or before the new rent is to take effect, whichever later. This reflects a similar statement as to dispute referral which has long been a feature of a valid notice of termination under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (the”2004 Act”).
- A statement from the Landlord providing details of the market rent payable in respect of three comparable properties with reference to the other terms of the tenancy, the size type and character of the other dwellings as well as the location.
See S.I. No 217 of 2016 for detail of the prescribed form of notice to be served. Unlike the provision which limited rent reviews to being conducted no more than once every two years (as opposed to annually) as introduced in December 2015 and which was limited for a period of four years, the provisions relating to the prescribed form and its contents are not so limited.
2. Termination of Part 4 Tenancies
Additional formalities applying to the table of reasons for terminating a Part 4 tenancy (located at section 34 of the 2004 Act) were also introduced by sections 28 and 29 of the 2015 Act, effective from . A notice of termination of a Part 4 tenancy for any of the affected reasons for termination must now also be served with either a statement or a statutory declaration as set out below.
If terminating by reason of:
- the dwelling being no longer suitable for the needs to the tenant (paragraph 2 of the table), a statement must also be served which specifies the number of bed spaces in the dwelling and the grounds upon which the dwelling is no longer suitable, by reference to the size and composition of the household;
- the landlord’s intention to sell the property as recited in paragraph 3 of the table, a statutory declaration setting out this intention must also be served;
- the landlord’s requirement of the property for his / her own use or for his / her family (paragraph 4 of the table), a statutory declaration which identifies the intended occupant and expected duration of the occupancy is now to be served. There was always a requirement to include a statement to this effect, however this requirement has now been formalised into a statutory declaration;
- the landlord’s intention to refurbish the property which requires the dwelling to be vacated (paragraph 5 of the table), a statement needs to be served as before, however:
- if planning permission is required, a copy of that permission should be attached, or
- if planning permission is not required, the statement should include the details of any contractor engaged to carry out the works and the dates / duration of the required works;
- the landlord’s intention to change the use of the property (paragraph 6 of the table), again a statement needs to be served as before, along with:
- a copy of the planning permission, if obtained, and
- the detail of any works that are required and if work are required, the details of any contractor engaged to carry out the works and the dates / duration of same.
3. Registration of Tenancies
Two of the provisions as recently introduced relate to registration:
- Registration Application Forms | There are two new prescribed forms for applying for Registration, Form RTB2 relating to tenancies involving Approved Housing Bodies and Form RTB1 for those applying for registration of all other tenancies (see S.I. No 150 of 2016)
- RTB Registration Confirmation | There is now a prescribed form for the RTB’s confirmation of tenancy registration, one format for issue to landlords and another format for issue to tenants. This prescribed form reflects the amendment introduced by section 60(b) of the 2015 Act, again commenced on 9 May 2016.
The amendment requires certain information to be set out to the parties, to include their respective rights and obligations relating to rent reviews, security of tenure under Part 4 and the termination of tenancies. Information on dispute resolution (in particular relating to challenging rent reviews or termination) is also to be included, along with details of the redress available from the RTB and the powers / functions of the RTB. Much of this detail is contained within the “Being a Good Landlord” and “Being a Good Tenant” information sheets which been available online for some time. These leaflets have been updated and included in the format of the prescribed form (see S.I. No 217 of 2016)
4. Third Parties
Neighbours and other third parties who could be affected by tenant activities (in particular, anti-social behaviour) were always owed a duty by the landlord to enforce his / her tenants’ obligations. A failure to enforce would allow that third party to bring a complaint to the RTB about the landlord’s failure to enforce. However, that complaint could only be brought by someone who was directly and adversely affected by the breach (ie, in the name of the third party and not, for example, in the name of the management company of an apartment block). This may have had a deterrent effect in circumstances where such a complaint would be copied to the tenants.
That situation has now been addressed by the commencement of section 36 of the 2015 Act on 9 May 2016 which permits a complaint against a landlord for failing to enforce his / her tenants’ obligations to be referred to the RTB through, for example, a management company, a resident’s association or neighbourhood watch group.
The above measures follow on from a number of recent reforms already made under the Act, which have been detailed on our website previously. There are still a large number of measures to be commenced, in particular the provisions relating to the deposit protection scheme which is to be operated / overseen by the RTB.