What Residential Landlords Need to Know About the New Emergency Legislation

With so much media commentary this week about the impact of the unfolding Covid-19 situation on the property market, it is possible that some big news may have gone unnoticed by landlords and people in the industry. And this would be entirely understandable, it has been quite a surreal few weeks. However, as we are frequently reminded, ignorance of the law is no excuse and it is critical that all landlords and investors are aware of new emergency legislation published earlier this week, which is expected to pass the Dáil and Seanad by the end of the week.

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 contains a whole raft of measures aimed at preventing evictions and it implements an effective rent freeze for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The emergency period will be for three months from the legislation taking effect and this may be extended by the Government if deemed necessary. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has spoken about how “These are emergency measures because of the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in … things we couldn’t do in normal times”.

Significantly, the main changes are as follows:

  1.  A landlord cannot serve a notice of termination in relation to a residential tenancy during this three-month emergency period.
  2. The bill also states that any increase in the rent payable under the tenancy that would ordinarily take effect during this three-month period can no longer take effect during that period “and shall not be payable in respect of any period falling during the emergency period”.
  3. For landlords who had previously served termination notices on tenants (prior to Tuesday) but those tenants have yet to vacate the rental property, the tenants will now be entitled to remain in occupation until the end of the emergency period and their notice period will be 90 days longer than the statutory time allowed.
As a practical measure, all landlords are encouraged to get in touch with tenants to gauge how the crisis is impacting them. If tenants are anticipating problems paying the rent, they are advised to apply for a rent supplement from the State immediately.

Other measures in the Emergency Bill include the waiving of planning permission for emergency health facilities and to turn restaurants into takeaways. There will also be a ‘pause’ in some of the statutory periods in the planning process (similar to Christmas and New Year arrangements).

It is fair to say that while government leaders are, objectively, doing a good job handling this crisis, the situation changes daily – sometimes hourly – and we all need to be mindful of that.
While working remotely for the most part, all of the Lotus Investment Group team remain fully committed to supporting our clients and are contactable by phone and email. Full contact details can be found at www.LotusIG.com. Stay safe folks.

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Director / Business Development
Lotus Investment Group