Five recent changes to tenancy law
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced a number of changes to the way your tenancy lease works and these changes have been gradually implemented over the last nine months with more to come. Here, Tim Ryan outlines the main points affecting your rights that are already in force.
All private residential tenancies are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004 and the amendments made to it since then. Under the Act, after an initial six-month period all tenancies become known by what are termed 'Part 4' tenancies. This means that after the first six months, you acquire some fundamental rights which last for a further three-and-a-half years after which the process starts all over again.
1 Your rent can only be increased every two years rather than every 12 months. This applies to all tenancy agreements issued on or after 4 December 2015. The new rules don't affect the fundamental mechanism for determining rents under the legislation, which is by reference to the market rent. 'Market rent' means the rent which a willing tenant not already in occupation would give, and a willing landlord would take, for the dwelling. In 2019, the rent review period will go back to 12 months.
2 Your landlord must give you a minimum of 90 days' notice of a rent increase. The notice can only take effect after a 24 month period has elapsed since the previous notice of a rent increase.
3 Both you and your landlord must give a longer notice period to end your lease. The length of notice required depends on the length of your tenancy. Since 4 December 2015, the notice periods for tenancies of five years or longer in duration has increased. The notice can be posted to tenants, be given to them in person or be left at the property. A landlord can give less notice if there is serious anti-social behaviour, i.e. violence, threats or intimidation as well as any persistent behaviour that interferes with neighbours. Periods of notice for anti-social behaviour can vary from as few as seven days in extreme instances, to 28 days for less serious offences.
4 Both you and your landlord may refer a dispute for mediation or adjudication to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) at any time. Under the new Act, you won't be charged a fee if you choose to have a dispute resolved by mediation. The process provides a trained mediator to assist both of you to reach an agreement without the need to attend a hearing or engage directly with each other. The RTB also offers a telephone mediation service which is a handy way to address disputes quickly and effectively. If you don't opt for mediation, then you can apply for adjudication, a process in which you or your representative must attend a sitting with your landlord before an independent adjudicator. The fee is €25 for a paper application and €15 for online. You can appeal the adjudicator's decision to a three-person Tribunal.
5 Further measures: The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 also provides for a number of other important measures including the lodging of your deposit with the RTB instead of paying it to your landlord. These measures will be introduced gradually by the relevant Minister in due course.
Full details are available at rtb.ie