Under the Rental Accommodation Scheme local authorities enter into contractual arrangements on behalf of tenants with accommodation providers, primarily in the private rented sector, to secure medium to long-term availability of rented accommodation. The lease on these units can vary from 1 year to over 10 years. Accommodation provided under the Scheme is governed by the terms of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended. The grounds upon which a tenancy in the private rented residential sector may be legally terminated are clearly set out in the 2004 Act. The Act provides the main regulatory framework for the private rented residential sector and provides for security of tenure. It also specifies minimum obligations for landlords and tenants under a tenancy.
My Department understands that some local authorities are currently experiencing a number of landlords leaving the scheme through not renewing their RAS contracts. Various reasons have been cited by landlords including their selling the property, financial difficulties they have encountered, that they themselves are seeking to move back to the property, or they need to accommodate other family members. The reasons given, while understandable, are presenting significant difficulties for both the sitting tenant and the authority. As the Rental Accommodation Scheme is now deemed to be a social housing support, local authorities retain the responsibility to source further accommodation for a RAS household, should the dwelling that the household is living in become unavailable through no fault of their own.
Local authorities, with the co-operation of the tenants, will make every effort to source alternative accommodation as quickly as possible. In seeking replacement accommodation a local authority will attempt to source a suitable alternative within or close to the area in which the tenant is residing. However that may not always be possible because of the scarcity of suitable properties available to let in the areas affected. In all cases, not just where a tenancy is under threat, there is no bar on RAS households from sourcing alternative accommodation themselves, if they so desire, independent of the council. Such accommodation must meet the household’s needs and be of an acceptable standard to the authority.