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Housing measures may not protect all tenants

06 Jul 2020 / property Print

Housing measures may not protect all tenants

Lawyers working in the area of housing and homeless say emergency measures on housing and homelessness introduced during the pandemic leave some types of tenants in an uncertain position.

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 came into effect on 27 March and its provisions were recently extended to 20 July

Pause

The legislation prevents landlords from serving a notice of termination during the emergency period. It also pauses previous termination notices for dates falling within the emergency period.

Barrister Nóra Ní Lionsigh told a Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC) webinar on the legal implications of the legislation that it was hastily drafted and may lack clarity in some areas.

Licensees

The aspects relevant to housing were amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

Ms Ní Lionsigh said the Act protects any landlord or tenant as defined under the 2004 Act, as well as those in student accommodation and tenants of local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. The legislation also contains protections for Travellers.

It may not, however, cover licensees, who include those living in digs-style accommodation, those living in the same home as a landlord or those under the Rent-a-Room scheme.

Question mark

The barrister said a key provision was Section 5 (7), which prohibits all proposed evictions in all tenancies in the state while the legislation is in operation.

She pointed out that while this suggests that the Act’s provisions are broader than tenancies covered by the 2004 Act, the definition of tenancy is not very clear, leaving a question mark over the position of licensees.

Intent

The webinar heard of one case in which an MLRC client lived with the home owner.

The client was evicted but was told by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) that it had no jurisdiction as the client had a licence agreement and not a tenancy.

Solicitor Paul Dornan said the intent to protect licensees may be there in the legislation, but the only explicit cover in the act in this area is for student-type accommodation.

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