The Residential Tenancies Act 2020 (“the 2020 Act”) is another piece of emergency legislation that has evolved as a result of COVID-19. It recognises the difficulties that would be faced by tenants in finding alternative accommodation during the emergency periods and the consequences resulting from the spread of COVID-19. Signed into law on 24 October 2020, it is the latest update to the residential tenancy legislation with the 2020 Act noting that the collective residential legislation, being the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 – 2019, the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 (other than Section 14 of that Act) and the 2020 Act, may be cited together as the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to 2020.
The 2020 Act is only operable during emergency periods which is defined in the 2020 Act as a period in which the Minister for Health imposes a restriction on travel outside a 5km radius of a person’s place of residence for a period as specified in the relevant legislation. The relevant legislation is made under Section 31A of the Health Act 1947 which allows for travel restrictions on affected areas.
The 2020 Act is to provide a level of protection to tenants against eviction where a notice of termination was served prior to or during an emergency period. The 2020 Act allows for a “revised termination date” which is the date 10 days after:
- In instances where the notice of termination was served before the emergency period, the revised date will be the period of notice that remains on the commencement of the emergency period, and the unexpired period of the emergency period; or
- Where the notice of termination was served during the emergency period, the period of notice given in the notice of termination and the unexpired period of the emergency period.
Should there be any further subsequent emergency periods these periods are to be included in calculating the revised termination date.
In instances where a tenant has remained in occupation of a dwelling after the expiration of the required period of notice and before an emergency period commenced, whether that be with or without landlord consent, that tenant shall be entitled to remain in the dwelling until the revised termination date which in this scenario is 10 days after the expiration of the emergency period. The Tenant does not acquire any rights under Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 under this section.
Where a notice of termination was served for failure by tenant to comply with one of their obligations then the Tenant does not get protection of the 2020 Act. These include:
- Where a Tenant or other visitors behave in anti-social behaviour;
- Where the dwelling is used for a purpose other than as a dwelling without the owner’s consent;
- Where acts of the tenant that would invalidate the insurance policy on the dwelling; and
- Where there is a threat which threatens the fabric of the dwelling.
The Act does not apply to a dwelling to which Part 2 of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 applies as these Tenants are separately protected under this legislation.
Click here for our article on the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020.
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