Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Residential Tenancies Board
1243. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the recent issues at a retirement home (details supplied); and his plans to ensure that the elderly and disabled residents in the complex are not evicted as a result of notices to quit issued. [3496/20]
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019, with one of its key functions being to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Due to the quasi-judicial and independent role of the RTB, it would be inappropriate for me, as Minister, to intervene in specific disputes.
Security of tenure for tenants is provided for under the Residential Tenancies Acts. Section 34 provides for a landlord to state a reason for the termination in any notice served, in accordance with the allowable grounds for terminations.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she needs vacant possession to substantially refurbish/renovate the property, that property must be offered back to the former tenant who provides their contact details, upon completion of the works. Also, such a termination notice must contain or be accompanied by a written certificate of a registered professional under the Building Control Act 2007, such as an architect or surveyor, stating that the proposed substantial refurbishment/renovation works would pose a health and safety risk necessitating vacation by the tenants and that such a risk would be likely to exist for at least 3 weeks.
The 2019 Act also provides additional powers for the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct, including non-compliance with the tenancy termination provisions. My Department will continue to keep the effectiveness and enforcement of the security of tenure provisions in the Acts under review.
With regard to planning policy guidance, my Department has issued a large number of planning guidelines (available on the Department’s website, www.housing.gov.ie) under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (the 2000 Act), to which planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are obliged to have regard in the exercise of their planning functions. The day-to-day operation of the planning system is, however, a matter for the planning authorities.
Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the relevant planning authority which can take action if a development does not have the required permission or where the terms of a permission are not being met. Planning authorities have substantial enforcement powers under the 2000 Act in this regard.
Under section 30 of the 2000 Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. Accordingly, I cannot comment in relation to any particular case.
Planning permission is required for any development of land or property unless it is specifically exempted under the 2000 Act or the associated Planning and Development Regulations 2001.
Under section 5 of the 2000 Act, where any question arises as to, what in any particular case, is or is not development or is or is not exempted development within the meaning of the Act, any person may on payment of the prescribed fee, request in writing from the relevant planning authority a declaration on that question. Any person seeking such a declaration has to provide the planning authority with any information considered necessary by the planning authority to make its decision.