Coronavirus: My tenant wants a rent freeze but what about catch-up payments?

Property Clinic: Many landlords have agreed temporary reductions with individual tenants

The monthly rent which was payable immediately prior to the emergency period remains the rent payable for the duration of this period. Photograph: iStock

The monthly rent which was payable immediately prior to the emergency period remains the rent payable for the duration of this period. Photograph: iStock

 

My tenant can’t pay during Covid-19 and seems to think that when all is back to normal he just resumes paying and then does not have to catch up. So he’s getting three to six months free and then I just get my mortgage extended by three to six months? Please explain the meaning of rent freeze. Some tenants think it means they don’t have to pay rent for the next three months.

The term “rent freeze” was first reported as forming part of the Government’s response to Covid-19 in late March. The Government then passed Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 which was signed into law on March 27th. This, among other things, put in place a number of temporary emergency measures aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic on residential tenants. It sets out various measures that will apply for what is called the “emergency period”, which is three months from March 27th.

The Act ensures that any increase in rent (whether notified to the tenant before or during the emergency period) shall not take effect during the emergency period and that rent increases, which were due to fall due during the emergency period, shall not be payable. This is the “rent freeze” referred to in your queries.

In simple terms, the monthly rent which was payable immediately prior to the emergency period remains the rent payable for the duration of this period. Any proposed increase in rent will not be payable until after the emergency period lapses. Tenants are still obliged to pay the existing rent as per their lease. However, many landlords have responded to the Government’s calls for forbearance and have agreed temporary reductions with individual tenants.

It is important that any agreements reached are clearly outlined in writing (email) so that there is no confusion post crisis.

Enda McGuane is a chartered planning and development surveyor and MD of Winters Property Management in Galway. He is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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