Renting and COVID-19

Introduction

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had a huge impact on jobs and incomes across Ireland.

For many people, rent is the largest outgoing they have to budget for. If your financial circumstances have changed, you may be concerned about how you will afford to pay your rent, and worried about what will happen if you cannot pay.

The Government has introduced measures to protect renters during this period. During the emergency period you should not:

  • Be evicted from your home
  • Be served a notice of termination by your landlord
  • Have your rent increased

These rules apply to all types of rentals, including where you are sharing accommodation with your landlord, student accommodation and ‘digs’ type accommodation where meals are provided.

You should:

  • Continue to pay rent
  • Continue to follow any rules you agreed to as part of your tenancy

The emergency period is the 3 month (90 day) period beginning on 27 March 2020.

This document sets out the special rules that are in place during the COVID-19 emergency period and tells you about what help is available if you are having difficulty paying your rent.

If you own your home and are having difficulty paying your mortgage, you can read more in our document on Your finances and COVID-19.

Termination of tenancy

Normally, if your landlord wants you to leave your accommodation, they must serve you with a notice of termination. This can be for a number of reasons.

From 27 March 2020 and for 3 months after this date, your landlord cannot issue you with a notice of termination. This applies to all types of tenancies, including license arrangements and where you live with your landlord.

If you got a valid notice of termination from your landlord before 27 March, the notice is frozen for 3 months during the emergency period. This means that the notice period is extended for 3 months. This applies to notice periods that end during the emergency period and afterwards.

Your landlord may still serve you with a warning notice if you do not pay your rent, or pay less than the amount of rent that is due.

The warning notice period has been extended from 14 days to 28 days. Your landlord should give you a reasonable amount of time to pay the rent that is owed.

If the rent is still not paid, your landlord may issue a notice of termination at the end of the emergency period.

Part 4 tenancies

When a tenancy has lasted more than 6 months, the tenancy becomes a part 4 tenancy. This means the tenancy can only be ended for specific reasons until the end of a 4 or 6 year period (depending on when the tenancy started). You can read more about part 4 tenancies.

Part 4 tenancies and further part 4 tenancies will not commence during the emergency period. The 3-month emergency period does not count towards the time spent as a tenant for part 4 or further part 4 tenancies.

Anti-social behaviour

If you engage in anti-social behaviour, your landlord may issue you with a warning to stop the behaviour. Your landlord may take a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Serious anti-social behaviour could be brought to the attention of the Gardaí. Your landlord cannot issue you with a notice of termination during the emergency period.

If you want to leave

The emergency legislation does not affect your right to end your tenancy. You should read your lease agreement or tenancy agreement for information on how to end your tenancy. If you are in a fixed term lease, you may lose your deposit if you leave your accommodation before the end of the fixed period.

The RTB has detailed frequently asked questions on the emergency legislation.

Evictions

You should not be evicted during the emergency period unless:

  • You got a valid notice of termination from your landlord before the start of the emergency period and
  • The notice expired before 27 March 2020 and
  • The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has issued a Determination Order in support of the tenancy termination

If you received a notice period that says you should leave your accommodation during the emergency period (27 March to 30 June), this notice is frozen until the emergency period is over.

If you are threatened with eviction, you should call Threshold for advice. See 'Further information and contacts' below for other organisations that might be able to help you.

If you live in Traveller accommodation, you cannot be evicted during the emergency period. This also applies if you are ‘doubling up’ in Traveller accommodation, or if you are staying on the side of a road. You can read more about Traveller accommodation and the emergency legislation from Pavee Point.

Rent freezes

All rents are frozen for the duration of the emergency period. The emergency period started on 27 March 2020 and will last for 3 months. It may be extended by the Government.

If you were given a valid notice that your rent was due to increase between 27 March and 30 June, the new rent will apply after the emergency period is finished.

This applies to all types of tenancies.

Difficulty paying rent

If you cannot afford to pay rent, you should discuss this with your landlord. Your landlord may agree to allow you to pay a reduced amount until your situation improves. You should not stop paying rent completely, and if you cannot pay the full amount of rent due, you should talk to your landlord or agent before you start paying a reduced amount.

You should read our document on social welfare and COVID-19 for information on the social welfare payments available to you if you have lost some or all of your employment or self-employment.

If you are in private rented accommodation, and are not getting the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) you can apply for Rent Supplement. To qualify for Rent Supplement you must:

  • Be working (or self-employed) less than 30 hours per week
  • Be habitually resident in Ireland
  • Be renting for 6 out of the past 12 months (or in receipt of Rent Supplement in the past 12 months)
  • Have been able to afford the rent when you took up the tenancy
  • Be in a bona fide tenancy
  • Pass a means test

A bona fide tenancy is where a genuine tenancy is in place and was in place before your claim for Rent Supplement. For example, if the house you live in is owned by a close relative and you have been living there without paying rent, you will not qualify for Rent Supplement for that accommodation.

If your spouse or partner is working or self-employed for over 30 hours per week, you will not be eligible for Rent Supplement.

You can read more about the habitual residence condition and how Rent Supplement is calculated.

If you are a HAP tenant and you have lost some or all of your self-employment, you should contact your local authority. Make sure that you have applied for any social welfare payment you might be entitled to before contacting your local authority. If your income has decreased, the local authority will re-assess your contribution to your rent.

Disputes

All RTB hearings are currently adjourned until further notice. If you are having difficulties with your tenancy, you can still contact the RTB. You can use their dispute resolution process, which includes mediation by telephone.

Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service provides advice and support to tenants where there is a tenancy problem or where a tenancy is at risk. Threshold advisors can mediate with landlords and also help with applications for rent supplement. Call 1800 454 454, 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday for more information.

Further information and contacts

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has published a Guidance Document: Supports for landlords and tenants (pdf) on the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020. The Residential Tenancies Board has published detailed FAQs on the emergency legislation for landlords and tenants (pdf).

Residential Tenancies Board

PO Box 47
Clonakilty
Co. Cork
Ireland

Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 6.30 pm
Tel: 0818 303 037 or 00353 766 887 350
Fax: 0818 303 039

Tenancy Protection Service

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 9 pm
Locall: 1800 454 454
Page edited: 27 April 2020