Thursday, 8 July 2021
Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021: From the Seanad (Resumed)
I will go through those amendments briefly because it is important that people know about these changes. Amendment No. 4 inserts a new section 6 into the Bill, amending section 20 of the 2004 Act. It provides that, generally, rent reviews are allowed to occur no more frequently than annually in a rent pressure zone, RPZ, or biennially outside RPZs. However, a rent review is allowed during a 12-month period in an RPZ or a 24-month review period outside if a substantial change in the nature of rented accommodation occurs that warrants an immediate change to the current rent.
I will address one point raised earlier by Deputy O'Callaghan about what have been termed "renovictions". That is illegal, and we know that. I have charged the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, with focusing on this area. If a landlord is erroneously stating a renovation is going to happen in a house which triggers somebody to move on and it is found that is not correct, that is an illegal act punishable under the law. There have been cases and there are investigations under way in that regard. I am not proposing to change anything in that regard but we have given the RTB additional staff to investigate incidences where complaints are raised. It can investigate those areas and complaints can be made by third parties, including, for example, an agent, a Deputy or anyone else on someone's behalf should that person feel afraid or disinclined to do so.
The new section 6 provides a technical reference to ensure any rent review that occurs on foot of the substantial change in the nature of accommodation provided can only occur where substantial change, within the meaning of the 2004 Act, happens. The aim is to ensure such a rent review is only allowed when a truly substantial change occurs. The new section 6 also provides for biennial rent reviews to continue to operate outside RPZs during the period to 31 December 2024. That is an additional three years. The aim is to provide for rent certainty outside the RPZs for a minimum of two years. That is the biennial rent reviews.
Amendment No. 6 inserts a new section 8 into the Bill to amend section 24B of the 2004 Act, which provides for areas deemed to be RPZs. The new section 8 provides for an extension of the deemed RPZs in Cork city and Dublin local authorities to continue to operate until 31 December 2024. That effectively extends those RPZs for a further three years when they were to expire on 31 December 2021. Amendment No. 6 is specifically required to extend the operation of those deemed RPZs until 31 December 2024 to protect tenants during a sustained period when constraints apply in the private rental sector.
Amendment No. 9 introduces a new section 12 to the Bill to amend section 8(2) of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 to provide for RPZs designated under section 24A of the 2004 Act to continue in operation. This is another time extension until 31 December 2024. The aim is to continue rent controls in these areas until the end of 2024.
Amendment No. 13 proposes consequentially to amend the Long Title of the Bill to reflect that, under amendment No. 18, section 8(2) of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 will now provide for designated RPZs to continue in operation until 31 December 2024, which is an extension from 31 December 2021.