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Tenants to be offered new statutory ‘right to purchase’ when landlord is selling

New legislation aims to shield more tenants from eviction when their properties are being sold

Under the rules, once a notice termination is served signalling the landlords intention to sell, the landlord must simultaneously invite their tenant to make a bid. Photograph: iStock

Landlords selling a property will be obliged to first offer it to the tenant on the basis of an independent valuation under new legislation being proposed by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

The draft Residential Tenancies (Right to Purchase) Bill, seen by The Irish Times, will give tenants the right to first refusal if the landlord is selling.

Under the rules, once a notice termination is served signalling the landlord’s intention to sell, the landlord must simultaneously invite their tenant to make a bid to purchase the property. The tenant will then have a period of 90 days to make one or more bids.

After the 90-day period, the landlord will be obliged to invite a further bid from the tenant if the sales prices agreed with a third party on the open market “is lower than or equal to the tenant’s highest unsuccessful bid made during the initial 90-day period”.


“The landlord would be required to give this further invitation to bid to the tenant directly prior to agreeing the final sales price with the third party and the tenant would have 10 days within which to make the necessary further [matching] bid,” the draft legislation says.

Under the new rules, the landlord would be obliged to accept such a further matching bid from the tenant.

The legislation, which will afford tenants a new statutory “right to purchase”, was first announced ahead of the lifting of the eviction ban in March this year.

If the tenant is not in a position to buy and is at risk of being made homeless by the sale, the Bill allows for the relevant local authority (for tenants in receipt of social housing support) or the Housing Agency (for private tenants) buy the rented property “to continue renting it to the sitting tenant”.

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It still has to go through pre-legislative scrutiny and be passed by both houses of Oireachtas, meaning it may not come into force for another year.

Critics, however, insist that the majority of the tenants are not in a position to buy and therefore the legislation, if passed, would have limited impact.

According to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute, there were almost 300,000 households, or 54 per cent of renting households in receipt of some kind of State support to help with the cost of housing in 2020, the main one being Hap (Housing Assistance Payment). This was more than double the number in receipt of equivalent housing supports in 1994.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) reported that 5,735 notices of termination, advising tenants they must vacate, were issued between April and the end of June of this year, an increase of one-fifth on the first quarter. Nearly two-thirds came because landlords opted to sell rather than keep the property in the rental market, the RTB said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times