Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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1317. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the assistance or supports his Department can provide to students who have paid for student accommodation and cannot get a refund from the accommodation provider; if he has been in contact with student accommodation providers on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5698/20]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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1359. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on whether it is appropriate that colleges are not refunding rents paid by students for on-campus accommodation for the period that they have been unable to attend campus (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6483/20]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1317 and 1359 together.

With effect from 27 March 2020, new emergency measures were introduced into law to protect tenants during the COVID-19 emergency period. Tenants cannot be forced to leave their rental accommodation during this period, other than in exceptional circumstances.  Initially, these emergency legislative provisions will last for a period of 3 months, but they may be extended if the Government considers it necessary. 

My Department has published a Guidance Document on COVID-19 supports for landlords and tenants which sets out the emergency rental measures and income and other supports available to tenants and landlords during the emergency period. The Guidance document is available at:

https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/images/uploads/general/COVID_Update_Guidance_Document_final.pdf 

and a list of Frequently Asked Questions has been developed and is available at:

.

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019 provide for minimum notice periods to be served by tenants and landlords for tenancy terminations – for example, a student must provide 28 days notice to end a tenancy of less than 6 months duration or 35 days to end a tenancy of more than 6 months but less than 1 year. 

The Acts do not prescribe specific terms and conditions regarding the payment of rents or deposits for inclusion in individual letting agreements in the private rental market including the student-specific accommodation sector. Contract law governs such arrangements.

The specific terms associated with an individual student’s rights and obligations are likely to be set out in a written contract signed by both the student and the landlord. Engagement between the parties to clarify the respective contractual obligations of the student and the landlord is key in establishing whether a breach of contract had occurred.

I understand that where State universities have closed due to COVID-19, they are generally providing refunds in respect of their directly owned student-specific accommodation.

Students may wish to contact their third level education providers to seek any assistance that they might be in a position to provide. If a student cannot come to an agreement with their accommodation provider, they might wish to contact the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) regarding their concerns – https://www.rtb.ie/– or to refer a dispute for resolution with regard to the non-refund of their deposit.

The RTB was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Due to the quasi-judicial nature of work of the RTB, it would be inappropriate for me, as Minister, or my Department to comment on or intervene in the specifics of any individual case.

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