Written Answers. - Tenancy Legislation.

Michael Ring

Question:

290 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if regulations have been signed, under the Rent Restrictions Act, 1960, to extend protection for tenants beyond 26 July 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15060/02]

The rents chargeable to certain tenants in the private rented sector were subject to control under the Rent Restrictions Acts until parts of those Acts were held to be unconstitutional in the early 1980s. In response, the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982, was passed to give certain protections to tenants of dwellings that had been subject to the Rent Restrictions Acts on the day the Housing Act, 1982, was enacted, 26 July 1982.

A tenant who was the tenant of a rent controlled dwelling in July 1982 will retain the full protection of the Housing Act, 1982, for their lifetime. A tenant who is the spouse of a person who was the tenant of a rent controlled dwelling in July 1982 will retain the full protection of the Housing Act, 1982 for their spouse's lifetime. The position for tenants in these situations will not change in July 2002 and no new regulations are needed to extend protection to these tenants beyond 26 July 2002. The rent tribunal will continue to be responsible for setting the rent and other terms of the tenancy and entitlement to the special rent allowance will continue as before. People who assumed the tenancy of a formerly rent-controlled dwelling after 26 July 1982 are in a different position. In the case of a person who assumed the tenancy between 26 July 1982 and 26 July 1997, the protection of the Housing Act, 1982 expires on 26 July 2002. In the case of a person who assumed the tenancy after 26 July 1997, the protection of the Housing Act, 1982 expires on the fifth anniversary of their assuming the tenancy. The protections of the 1982 Act will no longer apply to them from 26 July 2002 or from the fifth anniversary of their assuming the tenancy, whichever is later. However, these tenants will be entitled to claim renewable leases of up to 35 years duration under the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act, 1980. Their rent will be set by the Circuit Court and will apply for at least five years. Provision was made in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2002 to enable my Department's rent allowance to be paid in these cases after 26 July 2002. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government will make an order commencing the relevant parts of the Housing Act, 2002 shortly and I will make regulations under that Act to extend payment of rent allowance to the people in question. In addition, the Government has also decided to improve the rent allowance scheme to provide a greater level of support to successor tenants who may face increases in their rents from 26 July 2002. These improvements will also be implemented in regulations from 26 July 2002.