The Residential Tenancies Acts regulate the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented sector and set out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. Furthermore, the Residential Tenancies Board was established as an independent statutory body to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.
Under the Acts, where a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of six months, and no notice of termination has been served, the tenancy is established for the remainder of the four year period; this is referred to in the Act as a ‘Part 4’ tenancy. Where a Part 4 tenancy is being terminated, the landlord must state the reason in a termination notice. The termination will not be valid unless that reason is one of those set out in the Acts - for example, that vacant possession is required for substantial refurbishment of the dwelling. Notice periods for the termination of a tenancy by the landlord vary, depending on the duration of the tenancy, but periods of up to 224 days are provided for.
Threshold, the housing charity, operates the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) which is a national service providing advice and support to households living in private rented accommodation who are experiencing tenancy problems, including where a tenancy is at risk of termination. The TPS seeks to protect existing tenancies, keeping people in their home and preventing them from having to access homeless services. Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) helpline on free-phone 1800 454 454 is available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm. Further information is also available at www.threshold.ie.
I also intend to introduce legislation as soon as possible in 2018 to make it an offence to implement rent increases that contravene the Rent Pressure Zone limits. The Residential Tenancies Board will be given the powers and resources to investigate and prosecute landlords who implement such increases.
With regard to mortgage repossessions, while the circumstances of each case may vary, depending on the terms of the mortgage or charge under which a receiver is appointed, the appointment of a receiver does not affect the statutory or contractual rights of tenants under the Residential Tenancies Acts.
The Strategy for the Rental Sector, which was published in December 2016, recognises that receivership and repossession processes can cause confusion and distress for tenants. It also committed my Department to establishing an Inter-Departmental Working Group to explore the scope to provide for greater protection of tenants’ rights during the receivership process by ensuring that persons appointed as receivers will be required to fulfil the obligations of a landlord. The Working Group is expected to finalise its report later in Q1 2018.
The Government is committed to supporting households in long-term mortgage arrears to remain in their homes where possible. There are currently two Mortgage to Rent (MTR) schemes funded by my Department. One of the schemes provides that a local authority can acquire ownership of properties with unsustainable local authority mortgages, thus enabling the household to remain in their home as a social housing tenant. The second scheme provides that an Approved Housing Body (AHB) can acquire ownership of a property with an unsustainable private mortgage from a lender, while also allowing the household to remain in their home as a social housing tenant. Both schemes are part of the overall suite of social housing options and an important part of the mortgage arrears resolution process. These schemes target only the most acute arrears cases where a mortgage is clearly unsustainable.