The recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004- 2019 mean that those with a lease or licence for student accommodation are now protected to some extent by the residential tenancies legislation. Many term-time tenancies were previously considered as licences and fell outside the legislation.
What is included in the Act?
The amendment to Section 3 of the 2004 Act provides that the Act also applies to every dwelling situated in a building that has the sole purpose of providing accommodation to students during term time, whether or not the building or part of it is used for other purposes outside of term-time, and regardless of whether the students reside there outside of term-time, and regardless of whether any person other than a student resides there.
The amendment covers a situation which would previously have been regarded as a licence, for example where the student is not renting a self-contained unit and there are common areas or shared facilities.
The amendment does not cover a situation where a student rents a room in the landlord’s home, and does not include a situation where the landlord also lives in the building or part of the building.
What are the increased obligations on landlords?
A landlord is now required to register the tenancy with the Residential Tenancies Board, within one month of the beginning of the tenancy. This obligation arises in respect of all tenancies that begin on or after the 15th August 2019.
The cost of registration is €40 per tenancy or €170 for up to ten tenancies. There is no need to pay a fee to register a second tenancy of the same dwelling within a 12month period.
Both the student and the landlord will have access to the dispute resolution procedures of the RTB, and may seek to have issues mediated or adjudicated.
The landlord must provide 28 notice of the termination of a tenancy. This must contain specific information, but need not include a specific reason for the termination.
Student accommodation has now become subject to rent pressure zone legislation, meaning that for properties within the rent pressure zones of Dublin, parts of Galway, Cork, Kildare, Meath, Louth, Limerick, Kilkenny, Laois, Westmeath, Waterford and Wicklow certain rules apply on the rates of rent charged. The rent cannot be above market-value for similar properties in the area (three examples must be shown). A rent review may only take place every 12 months. Tenants must be informed, at the beginning of their tenancy of the previous rent charged, the date that rent was set and a statement as to how the rent was set using the RPZ calculator. The maximum increase in rent per year is 4%.
How does Student Accommodation differ from a Residential Tenancy?
The student is not entitled to exclusive occupation in the way that a residential tenant is. He or she is entitled to peaceful occupation, but the landlord may enter the common areas. This right of entry must be made clear to the student in the agreement.
The landlord may impose house rules, for example in relation to overnight guests or health and safety, that would be unusual in a residential tenancy.
The student does not become entitled to a part 4 tenancy. Under a residential tenancy, the tenant becomes entitled to secure tenure for a further five and a half years after six months in residence; this does not apply to students, where the term of the tenancy should be set out in the agreement between the parties.
A standard Residential Tenancy Agreement will not be sufficient to cover the student/ landlord relationship, and the landlord should ensure that the agreement signed accurately reflects the situation.
The above is intended for information purposes only, and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. Please contact us on 01 – 676 3257 for advice specific to your needs. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond, are happy to discuss with you any questions and concerns you might have in relation to residential tenancies or student accommodation.
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty, solicitor at Fitzsimons Redmond