Landlords who end tenancy to sell must sign contracts within nine months
New measures also tighten rules around ending a tenancy to enable refurbishments
Landlords will also be required to copy a tenancy termination notice to the Residential Tenancies Board. File photograph: PA
Landlords who terminate a tenancy because they want to sell their property must enter a contract of sale within nine months or re-offer the home to rent to former tenants, under new measures announced by the Government.
Under the new rules, a landlord who ends a tenancy to allow a family member use the property is obliged to offer the home back to the old tenant to rent if it becomes vacant within a year. This is a change from the current position where the property has to be offered back to the former tenant if it becomes vacant within six months.
Another measure would require landlords who end a tenancy to refurbish a home to offer it back to the former tenant once improvement works are completed.
The rules around ending a tenancy to enable refurbishments have also been tightened. If it is claimed that improvements to a property are needed because of health and safety risks, then this must be backed up a certificate from an architect or surveyor spelling out that necessary works that require the tenants to leave. The certificate must also state that the works will last at least three weeks.
In the case of a landlord wanting to sell their property, they must enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the termination of the tenancy. If they do not, the property must be re-let to a former tenant.
Landlords will also be required to copy a tenancy termination notice to the Residential Tenancies Board. The moves were approved by Cabinet this week, as were the continuation of “rent pressure zones” (RPZs) – areas where rent increases are restricted to 4 per cent per year- until 2021.
The 4 per cent cap was due to expire in the zones – which includes the cities and towns such as Drogheda and Naas – by the end of the year.
Currently, landlords can claim exemption from the rent cap if they make “substantial changes” to their properties. The new plans from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy seek to define this as an extension that increases the floor area of the property by 25 per cent or makes at least three of the following four changes: permanently altering the internal layout of the property; adapting the house for people with disabilities; permanently increasing the number of rooms and increasing the BER energy efficiency by two or more ratings.
Other rules regarding exemptions from the rent caps have also been tightened. The criteria for some areas to qualify as an RPZ will also be reviewed. Outside of RPZs, the requirement for bi-annual rent review cycles, rather than yearly, will continue to the end of 2021.
Other changes include extending the notice period to be provided by landlords who terminate a tenancy that has lasted between three and seven years to 180 days.
The notice period for a tenancy of six months or less will remain at 28 days but will increase from 35 days to 90 days for tenancies of six months to a year; and from 42-56 days to 120 days for tenancies of a year to three years.
It will remain at 196 days for lettings between seven and eight years and 224 days for eight or more years.
Dr Aideen Hayden, chairwoman of the housing charity Threshold, welcomed the measures but said “we remain concerned that landlords will continue to be allowed to terminate tenancies in advance of selling houses, and we would ask Government to restrict this.”
She said local authorities should be given the resources to buy properties with existing Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenants “thus ensuring they could remain in situ during and after a sale”.