Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Questions (68)

Mick Barry


68. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will prohibit evictions of tenants in which a property has failed a HAP inspection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37710/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations. Responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority.

Under sections 18A and 18B of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, a housing authority may issue an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice, respectively, where a property is found to be non-compliant. Under Section 34 of that Act, any person who by act or omission contravenes the Regulations, fails to comply with an improvement notice, or re-lets a house in breach of a prohibition notice, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. If an inspection identifies that a property has been found to be non-compliant with the regulations, it is a matter for the local authority to determine what action is necessary and appropriate, including the issuing of an Improvement Letter, Improvement Notice, Prohibition Notice or further legal recourse.

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is underpinned by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014. Under section 41 of the 2014 Act, local authorities are required to commence the inspection process within 8 months of the commencement of HAP support being provided in relation to a particular dwelling, if not already inspected within the previous 12 months. HAP may be provided on a property which is the subject of a subsisting improvement notice under section 18A of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. HAP shall not be, or shall cease to be, provided on a property which is the subject of proceedings or a prohibition notice under section 18B of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. Where a prohibition notice has come into effect, HAP may continue to be paid for 13 weeks from the date of HAP commencing or the notice coming into force, as appropriate.

Section 62 of the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 - 2019 provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any tenancy termination notice served, in accordance with the grounds for terminations set out in the table to section 34 of the Acts.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 enhances further the security of tenure for tenants by providing the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) with new powers to investigate and sanction improper conduct by a landlord who contravenes the tenancy termination provisions; and requiring landlords to copy a tenancy termination notice to the RTB.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 also provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she needs vacant possession to substantially refurbish/renovate the property, that property must be offered back to the former tenant who provides their contact details, upon completion of the works. Also, such a termination notice must contain or be accompanied by a written certificate from a registered professional under the Building Control Act 2007, such as an architect or surveyor, stating that the proposed substantial refurbishment/renovation works would pose a health and safety risk necessitating vacation by the tenants and that such a risk would be likely to exist for at least 3 weeks.

My Department will continue to monitor the effectiveness and enforcement of the security of tenure provision in the Acts with a view to making any necessary and justifiable amendments.