Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, have been ruled out of order as they involve a potential charge on the Exchequer.

Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, not moved.

Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 9 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4.

In page 8, line 42, to delete “and” and substitute the following:

"(f) section 120 shall not apply in respect of a dwelling the subject of a tenancy referred to in section 3(4), and".

Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 9 are technical amendments which arise out provisions inserted on Committee Stage relating to approved housing body tenancies. Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 provide that section 120 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 will not apply to approved housing body tenancies. Section 120 relates to the setting of rent in relation to a tenancy and is construed in accordance with section 19. Approved housing bodies use the differential rents scheme. Amendments were introduced on Committee Stage to exclude them from the provisions of the Act dealing with market rent, including section 19. As approved housing bodies are exempt from section 19 and their financial circumstances are expressly taken into account in calculating their rent they must be excluded from section 120.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, therefore, are consequential amendments to provide that section 120 will not apply to approved housing bodies. Amendment No. 9 provides for two technical drafting amendments to section 144 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. These amendments arise out of the fees provisions for approved housing bodies, which were inserted on Committee Stage and which also provide for the same arrangements for late registration of tenancies for approved housing body landlords as for private rented sector landlords.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 8, line 43, to delete "(f) section 139" and substitute "(g) section 139".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, have been ruled out of order as they do not arise out of Committee proceedings.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 15, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

14.—Section 144 of the Principal Act is amended in subsection (5) by—

(a) substituting "shall apply as if subsection (2) or (2A)" for "shall apply as if subsection (2)", and

(b) substituting "or 137A(6)" for "(fee of double the ordinary amount to be paid on late application))".".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 10 to 23, inclusive, and 29 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 17, to delete lines 27 to 35 and substitute the following:

" "(a) the rent payable under the tenancy concerned shall continue to be payable —

(i) to the landlord by the tenant or, as the case may be, each multiple tenant, or

(ii) where the dwelling concerned is the subject of a sub-tenancy, to the head-tenant by the sub-tenant or, as the case may be, each subtenant,".".

These amendments arise out of amendments tabled on Committee Stage which provided for the introduction of a new procedure to enable the PRTB to deal effectively with tenants who do not pay rent during the dispute process.

The purpose of these amendments, which are in the main technical drafting amendments, is to specifically provide for the application of that new procedure by a sub-tenancy. Members will recall that the Committee Stage amendments provided for an expedited process to deal with the issue of non-payment of rent by a tenant remaining in situ. The substantive amendment is contained in amendment No. 23, which inserts a new Part into the Schedule of the 2004 Act.

Amendment No. 10 clarifies that the rent continues to be payable by the sub-tenant to the head tenant pending the determination of any dispute.

Amendments Nos. 11 to 18, inclusive, and 21 are short amendments which remove the reference to a "sub-tenant" or "sub-tenancy" from sections 76A and 86(4) as sub-tenancies are now provided for in the Schedule.

Amendment No. 19 provides that if a landlord is referring a complaint under section 76A, he or she must notify any sub-tenant of the complaint. Amendment No. 20 specifically provides for the application of section 76A to sub-tenancies in the same way as the section applies to a tenancy. Amendment No. 22 is a technical amendment which clarifies that section 76A determination orders are binding orders under the Act. Amendment No. 29 provides for two technical drafting amendments consequential to the division of the Schedule into two parts.

I agree with the thrust of the amendments as they appear to support landlords who have difficulty in having rent paid. Some rebalancing is required in this regard. I have encountered a number of cases where landlords have experienced serious problems in obtaining rent payments. I urge the Minister of State to take note of the issue and rebalance the current provisions in favour of landlords who have mortgages and bills to pay and other liabilities to meet. It is most unfair that some tenants refuse to pay rent for prolonged periods and landlords must go through hoops to obtain redress.

I commend the Opposition parties on their Dáil reform proposals. Having heard a great deal from the Fianna Fáil Party this morning about Dáil reform, we now learn that its idea of Dáil reform is to abandon the House when it discusses important legislation. It is remarkable and an insult to the House that not one Opposition Deputy is present for this debate.

On the non-payment of rent, the purpose of some of the amendments, including on Committee Stage, is to ensure that where a person has an obligation to pay rent, even in the case of disputes, he or she continues to do so. This was the principal issue brought to our attention by landlords. The issue of deposit retention by landlords is the other side of the coin as it affects tenants. We also intend to address this issue in the Seanad. The amendments under discussion are related to sub-tenancies.

I concur with Deputy Stanton's other point. The Opposition side of the Chamber is empty, as was the case when the two previous Bills were being discussed. The detail of legislation is very important as it affects members of the public. I share the Deputy's view that it is very bad form that no Member of the Opposition is present in the House.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 25, to delete lines 23 and 24 and substitute the following:

“(ii) the tenant,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 25, line 37, to delete all words from and including “, or” down to and including “86(1)(a)(ii),” in page 26, line 1.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 26, to delete line 4.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 26, to delete lines 6 to 8 and substitute the following:

“the tenant referred to in section 86(1)(a)(i) has failed to comply with section 86(1) (a).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 26, line 15, to delete “under this section” and substitute “referred to in subsection (2)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 26, lines 19 and 20, to delete “, or as the case may be the sub-tenant,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 26, lines 32 and 33, to delete “or the sub-tenant”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 26, lines 44 and 45, to delete “or sub-tenant”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 27, to delete lines 4 to 10 and substitute the following:

“(8) Where the dwelling the subject of a tenancy is one out of which a subtenancy has been created, the landlord shall, when referring the complaint to the Board under subsection (2), notify the sub-tenant accordingly.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 27, to delete line 31 and substitute the following:

“115(3).

(14) Part 2 of the Schedule has effect for the purpose of the referral of a complaint referred to in subsection (2) in the case of a sub-tenancy.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 27, line 40, to delete “or a sub-tenant”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 29, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

58.—Section 123 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following after subsection (8):

“(9) For the avoidance of doubt, the reference in subsection (1) to the determination of an adjudicator under section 97 includes a determination under section 76A of a complaint referred to in section 76A.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 29, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:

60.—The Schedule to the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by substituting the following for “SCHEDULE”:

“SCHEDULE

PART 1”,

and

(b) by inserting the following after paragraph 8:

“PART 2

REFERRAL OF COMPLAINT UNDER SECTION 76A IN CASE OF SUB-TENANCY

1. Where the dwelling the subject of a tenancy is one out of which a sub-tenancy has been created and a sub-tenant has failed to comply with section 86(1)(a)(ii), then sections 75(4)(da), 76A, 86(2)(ca) and 86(4) shall apply to the sub-tenancy with the following modifications—

(a) subject to paragraph 2, for references to the landlord there shall be substituted references to the head-tenant,

and

(b) for references to the tenant there shall be substituted references to the sub-tenant.

2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply to section 76A(8).

3. Where a head-tenant refers a complaint to the Board under section 76A, he or she shall notify the head-landlord accordingly.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 24 to 28, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 31, between lines 8 and 9 to insert the following:

Section 32(1) Substitute “Part 1 of the Schedule” for “The

Schedule”.

Section 75(2) Substitute “Part 1 of the Schedule” for “the

Schedule”.

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 31, after line 12 to insert the following:

Paragraph 3(d) of the Schedule Insert “1A,” after “paragraph 1,”.

”.

This is a technical drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to insert a reference to paragraph 1A of the table to section 30 into paragraph 3(d) of the Schedule to the 2004 Act. This is consequential on an amendment made to the table to section 34 on Committee Stage.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank all Members who have participated in the debates on this Bill. While there are not many Deputies present, we had lively debates on Second and Committee Stages. This is important legislation and, as I indicated, I will table substantial amendments regarding deposit protection on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

I thank the Minister of State. She fully appreciates the issue of deposit retention, which I discussed with her in a recent Topical Issue Debate. She has also shown great determination and a strong interest in this issue.

It is extraordinary that, having accused the Government of not introducing Dáil reform, including this morning when the arrangements for the summer recess were the subject of dispute, not one Member from the Fianna Fáil Party, Sinn Féin or the Technical Group is in attendance to debate this important legislation. It is worth recording this fact.

Question put and agreed to.