COVID-19: Emergency measures to protect Residential Tenancies, Mar 2020

Government approves series of emergency measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020


On Tuesday 24 March, the Government approved the publication of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 (the “Bill”).

The Bill provides for a series of emergency measures to protect residential tenants who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic which will amend the operation of the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019.

The provisions in the Bill relating to residential tenancies apply during the “emergency period” which is a period of 3 months from the date the legislation comes into effect but this period can be further extended by ministerial order.

The Bill applies to all residential tenancies governed by the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019.

The amendments included in the Bill are as follows:

  • landlords cannot serve a notice of termination in relation to a tenancy during the emergency period;
  • landlords are prohibited from taking any steps to implement any termination notices already served except where this is on foot of a determination by the Residential Tenancies Board;
  • the notice period for terminating a tenancy for non-payment of rent has been extended to 28 days but the effect of this provision is unclear given that landlords are prohibited from terminating a tenancy during the emergency period;
  • tenants who been served with termination notices prior to the commencement of the emergency period and who are yet to vacate are entitled to remain in the dwelling until the emergency period is over. The one exception to this is where termination is on foot of a determination by the Residential Tenancies Board;
  • tenants who remain in occupation following termination of their tenancy can continue to remain in occupation during the emergency period subject to the terms of the relevant tenancy agreement; and
  • any scheduled increase in rent due to take place during the emergency period will not take effect and will not be payable in respect of any period falling during the emergency period. Rent increases cannot be sought by landlords during the emergency period nor applied retrospectively after the emergency period has ended.

The Bill also provides that a tenant cannot acquire the right to security of tenure for a 6 year period as a result of the reliefs provided.

While tenants will be expected to pay rent during this period, income supports and rent supplement is available to those struggling to do so. These supports are provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Any rent arrears built up will be payable, but landlords have been asked to show forbearance and reach local arrangements in such circumstances.

Tenants are encouraged to contact their landlords as soon as possible if they are in any financial difficulty and see if a temporary solution can be found – such as reduced rental payments.

After the emergency period residential tenancies will revert to their current terms and the current legislative arrangements will apply.

Landlords with buy-to-let mortgage need to be mindful of their repayment ability/capacity where tenants cease paying rent for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.


Professional advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed. Please contact a member of our team should you wish to discuss this topic further.