Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021: From the Seanad (Resumed)

The Dáil went into Committee to resume consideration of amendments from the Seanad
Seanad amendment No. 2:
Section 4: In page 4, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 12 of Act of 2004
4. Section 12(1) of the Act of 2004 is amended in paragraph (i)(iii) by the deletion of “(4)”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 3:
Section 5: In page 5, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 19 of Act of 2004
5. Section 19 of the Act of 2004 is amended—
(a) in subsection (4), by the substitution of “Subject to subsections (4A) and (5)” for “Subject to subsection (5)”,
(b) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (4):
“(4A) Notwithstanding subsection (4), and subject to subsection (5), insetting the rent under a tenancy of a dwelling in a rent pressure zone in respect of which the landlord serves a notice under section 22 on or after the coming into operation of section 5 of the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021—
(a) an amount of rent shall not be provided for that increases the rent last set by more than any rent increase calculated in accordance with subsection (4B), or
(b) an amount of rent shall not be provided for that increases the rent last set where a calculation is made, in accordance with subsection (4B), that no increase in the rent last set has occurred.
(4B) Any increase in the rent last set shall be calculated by—
(a) calculating as a percentage any difference between the HICP value that applied on the date the rent was last set and the HICP value that applies on the new date, and
(b) applying the amount of the percentage calculated under paragraph(a) to the rent last set.
(4C) The Board shall—
(a) establish and maintain a rent pressure zone calculator to calculate any increase in rent in a rent pressure zone in accordance with the method set out in subsection (4B), and
(b) publish and keep up to date a table of HICP values published by the Central Statistics Office.
(4D)The Minister, for the purposes of subsections (4A) to (4C), may prescribe—
(a) the means by which the rent pressure zone calculator referred to in subsection (4C)(a) shall operate to accurately calculate any increase in rent in a rent pressure zone by applying the HICP values to the rent,
(b) the information to be furnished in the table referred to in subsection (4C)(b),
(c) the form and manner of publication by the Board of that calculator and table, and
(d) an index or indices, containing data corresponding to HICP values,as may be published by the Central Statistics Office to be used for the purposes of the calculation under subsection (4B).”,
(c) in subsection (5), by the substitution of “Subsections (4) and (4A) do not apply—” for “Subsection (4) does not apply—”,
(d) in subsection (6), by the substitution of “subsections (3), (4) and (4A)” for“subsections (3) and (4)”,
(e) in subsection (6A), by the substitution of “subsection (4) or, as the case may be, (4A)” for “subsection (4)”,
(f) in subsection (7), by the insertion of the following definitions:
“ ‘HICP values’ means the values contained in the most recent data available monthly in the All-Items Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices in relation to Ireland and published monthly by the Central Statistics Office in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/7921 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on harmonised indices of consumer prices and the house price index, and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No. 2494/95;
‘new date’ shall be the date of publication by the Board under subsection (4C) of the table of HICP values that occurs most recently prior to the service of a notice under section 22 by the landlord on the tenant;”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendment Nos. 4, 6, 9 and 13 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 4:
Section 6: In page 5, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 20 of Act of 2004
6. Section 20 of the Act of 2004 is amended—
(a) in subsection (3)(i), by the insertion of “(within the meaning of subsection (5A) of section 19)” after “substantial change”,
(b) in subsection (5) by the substitution of “1 January 2025” for “1 January 2022”, and
(c) in subsection (6) by the substitution of “31 December 2024” for “31 December 2021”.”.

These are all Government amendments. Are we talking about amendments Nos. 4, 6, 9 and 13?

I will go through those amendments briefly because it is important that people know about these changes. Amendment No. 4 inserts a new section 6 into the Bill, amending section 20 of the 2004 Act. It provides that, generally, rent reviews are allowed to occur no more frequently than annually in a rent pressure zone, RPZ, or biennially outside RPZs. However, a rent review is allowed during a 12-month period in an RPZ or a 24-month review period outside if a substantial change in the nature of rented accommodation occurs that warrants an immediate change to the current rent.

I will address one point raised earlier by Deputy O'Callaghan about what have been termed "renovictions". That is illegal, and we know that. I have charged the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, with focusing on this area. If a landlord is erroneously stating a renovation is going to happen in a house which triggers somebody to move on and it is found that is not correct, that is an illegal act punishable under the law. There have been cases and there are investigations under way in that regard. I am not proposing to change anything in that regard but we have given the RTB additional staff to investigate incidences where complaints are raised. It can investigate those areas and complaints can be made by third parties, including, for example, an agent, a Deputy or anyone else on someone's behalf should that person feel afraid or disinclined to do so.

The new section 6 provides a technical reference to ensure any rent review that occurs on foot of the substantial change in the nature of accommodation provided can only occur where substantial change, within the meaning of the 2004 Act, happens. The aim is to ensure such a rent review is only allowed when a truly substantial change occurs. The new section 6 also provides for biennial rent reviews to continue to operate outside RPZs during the period to 31 December 2024. That is an additional three years. The aim is to provide for rent certainty outside the RPZs for a minimum of two years. That is the biennial rent reviews.

Amendment No. 6 inserts a new section 8 into the Bill to amend section 24B of the 2004 Act, which provides for areas deemed to be RPZs. The new section 8 provides for an extension of the deemed RPZs in Cork city and Dublin local authorities to continue to operate until 31 December 2024. That effectively extends those RPZs for a further three years when they were to expire on 31 December 2021. Amendment No. 6 is specifically required to extend the operation of those deemed RPZs until 31 December 2024 to protect tenants during a sustained period when constraints apply in the private rental sector.

Amendment No. 9 introduces a new section 12 to the Bill to amend section 8(2) of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 to provide for RPZs designated under section 24A of the 2004 Act to continue in operation. This is another time extension until 31 December 2024. The aim is to continue rent controls in these areas until the end of 2024.

Amendment No. 13 proposes consequentially to amend the Long Title of the Bill to reflect that, under amendment No. 18, section 8(2) of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 will now provide for designated RPZs to continue in operation until 31 December 2024, which is an extension from 31 December 2021.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 5:
Section 6: In page 5, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 22 of Act of 2004
7. Section 22(2A) of the Act of 2004 is amended—
(a) in paragraph (e) by the deletion of “and”,
(b) in paragraph (f) by the substitution of “not apply, and” for “not apply.”,
(c) by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (f):
“(g) where the dwelling is in a rent pressure zone (within the meaning given by section 19(7)) to which section 19(4A) applies, state how any increase in the rent last set under the tenancy of the dwelling was calculated or, where section 19(4A) does not apply, state why it does not apply.”.”.
Amendment No. 1 to Seanad amendment No. 5 not moved.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 6:
Section 6: In page 5, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 24B of Act of 2004
8. Section 24B of the Act of 2004 is amended by the substitution of “31 December 2024” for “31 December 2021”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 7:
Section 11: In page 6, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 115 of Act of 2004
11. Section 115(2)(b) of the Act of 2004 is amended—
(a) by the deletion of “subsection (1) or (4) of”, and
(b) by the substitution of “with section 19” for “with either of those subsections”.”
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 8:
Section 11: In page 6, to delete lines 22 to 26 and substitute the following:
“Amendment to Schedule 2 of Act of 2004
12. Schedule 2 to the Act of 2004 is amended—
(a) in paragraph (a) by the substitution of “(4), (4A) or” for “(4) or”, and
(b) by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (b):
“(ba) the seeking by the landlord of a payment to him or her of an amount or amounts in contravention of section 19B.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 9:
Section 12: In page 6, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:
“Amendment of Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019
12. Section 8(2) of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 is amended by the substitution of “31 December 2024” for “31 December 2021”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 10:
Section 12: In page 6, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
“(2) Section 5 shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage may by order or orders appoint either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or provisions.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 11:
PREAMBLE: In page 4, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:
“AND WHEREAS the Oireachtas has, with regard to sections 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 to 15 and 17(b) of this Act, taken account of the matters referred to in the forgoing recitals;”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 12:
TITLE: In page 3, line 8, after “tenants;” to insert the following:
“to provide for changes to the manner of determining rent increase restrictions in rent pressure zones;”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 13:
TITLE: In page 3, line 8, after “2004;” to insert the following:
“to extend the period during which areas shall stand prescribed as rent pressure zones; for that purpose to amend the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019;”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendments reported.

Agreement to the Seanad amendments is reported to the House. A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it accordingly.