Housing or more correctly the lack of it continues to dominate the media headlines.
In recent weeks, there has been a particular focus on the lifting of the “no fault eviction ban” by the Government and efforts by the opposition to have it reinstated and extended.
The Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act came into effect in October 2022. The aim of the Act was to:
- Mitigate the risk that persons whose tenancies would otherwise be terminated during the winter period would be unable to obtain alternative accommodation, and
- Manage demands on housing services
The Act provided a temporary stay on termination notices that were due to expire during the winter emergency period, ie between 30 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.
The original termination date in such notices was stayed depending on the duration of the tenancy and when the notice was due to expire and was replaced with a later date as set out in the Act. This results in phased terminations of such tenancies on various dates after 31 March rather than a “cliff edge”.
However, the questions that remains after the lifting of the ban is whether the market and supply of housing has improved and if we are likely to see another similar scheme next winter?
So now that the ban is lifted, what is the current situation?
The position in respect of no-fault terminations reverts to the scheme in play prior to the introduction of the eviction ban.
Grounds for termination
The first thing to consider is whether there is a fixed term lease in place. If so, it can only be terminated where there is a break clause, which is not particularly common in Ireland or where the tenant is in breach and has failed to remedy that breach when called upon to do so.
Where the tenant has accrued statutory rights, the grounds for termination are set out in the legislation and a landlord can only terminate in the following circumstances:
- Where the tenant is in breach of their lease -this includes failure to pay rent
- The dwelling is no longer suitable for the accommodation needs of the tenant and of any person residing with him / her
- Where the landlord requires the dwelling for his / her own use or that of his / her family
- Where the landlord intends to sell the dwelling within nine months of the termination date
- Where the landlord intends to substantially refurbish the dwelling
- Where the landlord intends to change the use of the dwelling
Residential tenancies can only be terminated by written notice.
Where the termination is on a no fault basis, the relevant notice period is referrable to how long the tenant has been in occupation.
These notice periods range from 90 days where the tenant has been in occupation for less than 6 months, to 244 days where the tenant has been in occupation for over 8 years.
The notice period starts the day immediately after the date of service of the notice of termination.
The notice periods provided for in the legislation are minimum notice periods and longer notice periods can be provided.
Different notice periods apply where the termination is fault based.
The law in this area is complex and subject to change – we saw this in particular with the various pieces of legislation that were introduced during the pandemic.
As a result, the possibility for a landlord to inadvertently not comply with the requirements for a valid termination notice are high.
The RTB annual report consistently cites high volumes of termination notices as being invalid.
Where a landlord is issuing a notice of termination, he or she should ensure that :
- A valid ground for termination exists,
- the appropriate notice and any ancillary documents are used, and
- The correct notice period is afforded to the tenant
A landlord should also remember that it is now a requirement that a copy of the notice of termination is served on the RTB at the same time as being served on the tenant. Failure to do so will result in the notice being deemed invalid.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.