Our landlord has asked us to leave, what happens if we don’t move out?

Property Clinic: Your questions answered

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

My landlord has been asking me to vacate his house. But due to many factors, such as kids not getting enrolled in schools as they are all filled up and no houses available for rent in the town we are living in, it is impossible to move. We have continuously looked for houses and still are, so I want to ask what is the most that the landlord can do if we don’t move out?

This is a difficult scenario for both parties and it is one that Covid-19 has made more challenging. First of all it is important to point out that due to Covid-19, the situation with regard to rental properties is changing all the time and has indeed changed since you submitted your query.

Following the move to Level 5, the Government has announced that there will be further upcoming legislation placing a ban on evictions until January 10th, 2021. Therefore, the short answer to your query is that your landlord cannot ask you to vacate the property while this moratorium is in place.

If your situation continues and the Government abolishes the moratorium, which it has done previously (after the first lockdown), I would suggest the following:

Start by asking your landlord why s/he wants you to leave the property. This is important as the legislation gives a limited number of reasons for landlords to end a tenancy, assuming you have been living in the property for more than six months. This is to allow for security of tenure for you and your family.

Some of the reasons a landlord may ask a tenant to leave are because they want to move in themselves, or a family member needs to move in. During the pandemic I am seeing more Irish people returning from abroad and their parents trying to free up their own investment properties to allow a son or daughter take up a tenancy with their own family.

The important point is to keep the lines of communication open. If the reason the landlord wants you to vacate falls within the legislation, then ask your landlord to send you the appropriate notice of termination of tenancy along with any other appropriate documents that need to be sent with the notice. If you are a long-term tenant, then by law the landlord must give you plenty of notice: nearly eight months in some cases.

With Covid-19, the supply of properties is going up in certain areas in Ireland as foreign nationals who were working here return home during these strange times. With more availability, you may find it easier to find another property within the notice period.

In general, the major problems tend to arise when the needs of the landlord and the tenant collide. In that scenario the tenant is not motivated to leave and the landlord cannot access the property, despite having genuine reasons for ending the tenancy. Very often this will lead to a long and drawn-out adjudication hearing for overholding at the Residential Tenancy Board, which neither party wants. This type of stress is the last thing you need in your situation.

My advice would be to keep talking to your landlord, update him or her on your search for a new property and where you are viewing. By so doing the landlord may give you an extended notice period even after the moratorium on evictions expires, thereby enabling all parties to get what they need at the end of the day.

Marcus O’Connor is a chartered surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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