Bill strengthening protections for tenants passes in Seanad

Legislation will increase notice-to-quit periods and give RTB greater powers to investigate

The Bill increases the notice landlords must give tenants to vacate a property. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Bill increases the notice landlords must give tenants to vacate a property. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The Bill legislating for new rules around short-term property lettings has passed in the Seanad and will come into law on July 1st.

The Government will ask President Michael D Higgins for early signature of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No 2) Bill which aims to reform the rental market.

The Bill was passed by the Seanad on Tuesday, having already completed its passage through the Dáil. The Cabinet agreed with a request from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to seek early signature of the legislation.

The new rules are part of legislation to strengthen the protections for tenants.

Provisions in the Bill include a requirement that short-term lettings for any period up to a maximum of 14 days in rent pressure zones require planning permission unless specifically exempted, with fines of up to €5,000.

The legislation also increases the notice landlords must give tenants to vacate a property, and increases the number of areas included in the rent pressure zone, or rent certainty, which limits rent increases to 4 per cent annually.

It allows the Residential Tenancies Board to investigate landlords for breaches of the legislation including where the notice to quit a property is done on a false or misleading basis with fines of up to €15,000.

Landlords have claimed the Bill will force more owners who lease property out of the market while organisations representing tenants say the legislation does not go far enough.

The Bill includes student accommodation in the rent pressure zones, and will increase the notice-to-quit period to 180 days for every tenant in a property for more than three years and less than seven.

Tenants in a property for more than six months but less than a year will have their notice extended from 35 to 90 days, while those in a house for between one and two years will have 120 days to quit compared with 42 days currently. For those in a property for between two and three years the notice will rise from 56 days to 120 days.

Notice periods for those in a property for less than six months will remain at 28 days.

The legislation will also allow the Residential Tenancies Board to initiate an investigation against a landlord without prior complaint and landlords will be obliged to register their properties annually with the board.

A four-week public information campaign on the new rules will take place next month ahead of them coming into force.