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Important Changes to Rental Legislation for Landlords and Tenants

By: Shirley Fogarty | Posted on: 27 Nov 2019

Important Changes to Rental Legislation for Landlords and Tenants

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act, 2019 was signed by the President on the 24th May 2019. Landlords and Tenants should be aware of the following key changes:-

Rent Pressure Zones:
1. Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), are areas where rents are highest and rising quickly. The Act extends the existing rent increase cap to the end of 2021 as well as amending the Rent Pressure Zones, qualifying criteria in order to capture more areas experiencing high rents. The Act makes it an offence for Landlords within RPZs to raise the rent above the legally allowed 4% and gives the Residential Tenancies Board power to examine and enforce any breaches of the rent caps. 2. If you live outside a RPZ, the rent for a property can be reviewed only once every twenty-four months. This rent certainty measure is in place until the 31st December 2021. Any attempt by a Landlord to increase the rent before the twenty-four month period has passed is invalid. Previously, rents could be reviewed once every twelve months and this may become the case again after the 31st December 2021 if no further extensions are included in the Legislation.

Exemption from Rent Pressure Zone Rules:
1. Under the 2019 Act, the rent restriction will not apply when the rent is first set in the case of a property which has not been let within two years before the Tenancy concerned commences. However, the restriction will apply to any subsequent setting of the rent. 2. The second exemption refers to a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation. The Act provides a new definition of what constitutes substantial change which Landlords must satisfy in order to qualify for an exemption from the RPZ rent restrictions. In order to qualify as a substantial change, the change must involve either; (i) A permanent extension to the dwelling, increasing the floor area by at least 25%; (ii) An improvement in the Building Energy Rating by at least seven or more ratings; (iii) At least three of the following:-

• A permanent alteration to the internal layout; Title: Important Changes to Rental Legislation for Landlords and Tenants
Summary: What the new Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act, 2019 means
• An adaption for use and access by persons with a disability; • A permanent increase in the number of rooms; • An improvement in the BER by three or more ratings where the BER is D1 or lower;
• An improvement in the BER by two or more ratings where the BER is C3 or higher.
In all cases, the works must not consist solely of works that the Landlord is obliged to carry out in accordance with their repairing obligations under the Residential Tenancies Acts. The substantial change requirement only applies to works carried out since the legislation and does not apply to works already under way before the legislation came into effect.
Landlords Relying on an Exemption from the RPZ Rent Restrictions on the grounds that the property a) has not been let within the previous two years; or b) on the substantial changes exemption will be required to serve a notice on the Residential Tenancies Board within one month of the setting of the new rent. The new notification requirements came into force on the 1st July 2019.

Notice of Termination Obligations and Procedures:

Effective from the 4th June 2019, the Legislation provides for a number of changes, such as:

1. Where a Landlord intends to sell, he must enter into a Contract for Sale within nine months of the Termination date (extended from the previous three months). If this does not happen he must offer to re-let the property to the former Tenant provided that the former Tenant has given their contact details to the Landlord.

2. Where a Landlord intends to substantially refurbish the dwelling, the Landlord must provide certification by a registered professional that the works would pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants which would require a vacation of the property and would take at least three weeks to complete. The Landlord must offer the property back to the original Tenant on completion of the works if the property becomes available for re-letting (this was previously limited to where the property became available for re-letting within six months of the Termination Date).

3. The Legislation provides that where a Tenancy has been terminated on the basis that the Landlord requires the property for their own occupation or that of their family members and where the Landlord or family members then vacate the property within one year, the property must be re-offered to the former Tenant provided the former Tenant has given the Landlord their contact details. Whilst this obligation existed already, the Act has extended the relevant period from six months to one year.

4. The Act has extended the time period where a Tenancy is terminated on the grounds of change of use. If a property becomes available for re-letting within twelve months of the Terminate Date (which was previously six months), a Landlord will be obliged to offer the property back to the Tenant provided the Tenant has given the Landlord their contact details.
Termination of a Tenancy by Landlords:
The Act has introduced new rules which impact on Landlords terminating tenancies, effective from the 4th June 2019.
Landlords will be required to comply with new notice periods when terminating a Tenancy with significantly longer notice periods required for tenancies lasting between six months and seven years. The following Table is a comparison of the old and new notice periods

Requirement to serve a copy of the Termination Notice:


Landlords must serve a copy of the Termination Notice to the Residential Tenancies Board no later than 28 days after the expiration of the Notice period.   

There are no changes in the Notice periods for termination by a Tenant

Student Accommodation:

Traditionally, student accommodation has fallen outside the remit of Residential Tenancies Legislation, particularly where the accommodation was subject to a licence rather than a lease.  However, a student who resides in student accommodation on or after the 15th August 2019, such as on-campus accommodation or purpose-built student accommodation, will have many, but not all, of the same rights as Tenants in private rented accommodation.  Certain properties remain outside the scope of the legislation, most notably a property where the Landlord also lives along with the students, will continue to be exempt. 


As a result of the Act, student accommodation will be subject to RPZ rent restrictions, to registration requirements and to RTB Dispute Resolution procedures even if the student occupies under a licence.  However, there are a number of provisions that do not apply to student lettings/licences, most notably the Part 4 security of tenure provisions and a number of provisions relating to subletting.  Tenants in student accommodation which already came under the Residential Tenancies Act are not affected by the changes.

Short-Term Lettings:

Since the 1st July 2019, the 2019 Act imposes additional obligations on people who rent out their property on a short-term basis in an RPZ.  A short-term letting is defined as “the letting of a dwelling or a part of a dwelling for any period not exceeding fourteen days”. 

The use of a property for short-term letting in an RPZ can amount to a material change of use.  This means that a formal application must be made for Planning Permission if the property is not your principal private residence or if you rent your property for more than ninety days in a calendar year.  However, exemptions were introduced by the Planning and Development Act (Exempted Development) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 and these exemptions effectively allow home sharing by permitting a homeowner to let up to four bedrooms in their property (house or apartment). 

They also make it exempt for homeowners to let their entire principal private residence on a short-term basis provided the total number of days the property is let in a given year does not exceed ninety days.  The exemptions will not apply if the short-term letting would be in breach of a condition of any Planning Permission granted in respect of the property and homeowners must notify the Planning Authority in advance by submitting the relevant forms and complying with requirements within the prescribed timeframes.  If the ninety-day cap is exceeded, formal Planning Permission will be required.