Planning For Housing And Residential Rental Sector

Author:Ms Cara O'Hagan, Brian Doran, Peter McKeever, Sally Anne Stone and Nicola Dunleavy

As its final act before the Christmas recess, the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) passed legislation providing new protections for residential tenants, and amending the planning code to facilitate delivery of housing. A new mechanism for rent predictability, in areas where rents are high and rising quickly, is intended to deliver certainty for residential tenants, while allowing sufficient rental growth to ensure that investors are not deterred from entering the residential rental market.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 was signed into law by the President today, Friday, 23 December 2016. The Act is intended to underpin the Government's housing strategy, one of the key priorities for the Irish Government. While some provisions take effect before Christmas, others will not come into force until the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government makes a commencement order. Changes to the residential tenancies legislation arising from the Strategy for the Rental Sector published last week have been implemented swiftly, to minimise the opportunity for landlords to pre-empt the commencement of these tenant protections.

Protections for Tenants The impact of rising rents on the housing crisis has been the subject of social and political debate for some time. The Government has now intervened in the private rental market to limit rental increases in areas designated as rental pressure zones to a maximum of 4% per annum for a period of up to three years.

The local authority areas of Dublin and Cork City are designated rental pressure zones by the Act. Other areas may be designated in the future if the average rent for an area is above the national average and rates of increase over a period of time exceed a specified threshold. The limits on rental increases will apply both at the start of the tenancy and to each rent review. However there are exemptions in relation to properties which are new to the rental market and upgraded properties, to encourage supply and upgrading of rental accommodation.

Additional measures to protect tenants and enhance the functioning of the private rented residential sector include:

Extending tenants' security of tenure under a Part 4 tenancy from four to six years in respect of new tenancies and abolishing landlords' right during the first six months of a further Part 4 tenancy to terminate that tenancy for no stated ground; Where a landlord...

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