The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, have today (9th June 2021) announced new student rental protections.
Under the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021 any upfront payment upon the commencement of a tenancy will be restricted to a total value that does not exceed two months’ rent i.e. a deposit and one month rent in advance.
This restriction will apply to all tenancies including for students residing in student specific accommodation. A student can make a larger upfront payment if they so wish, by way of an opt-out option, but they cannot be forced to do so.
The Bill also provides that the notice period to be given by students in respect of student specific accommodation will be limited to a maximum 28 days’ notice.
Welcoming the provisions Minister O’Brien said, “Today Cabinet have approved the introduction of a number of rental protections which will benefit students. These measures are just the beginning of a suite of rental protections which I hope to bring forward in the autumn to protect all tenants.
“Having met previously with members of the USI, I know they were particularly concerned about students being asked to pay up to a year’s rent in advance and having to provide lengthy termination notices. The measures Cabinet have approved today will go some way towards alleviating the concerns raised.
“We do need to increase the availability of accommodation for students - this is the most effective way to provide real choice and options. I will continue to liaise with Minister Harris and the USI on this matter,” concluded Minister O’Brien.
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I want to welcome the measures contained in this Bill. The cost of accommodation can be a significant burden for students and their families.
“Over 40,000 students live in purpose build student accommodation. This measure will help lower the financial barriers by removing a significant upfront expense for students attending college. It will be applicable for the new academic year.
“This is one of a series of initiatives we intend to take in this area but today is an important step.”
The rental measures approved by Cabinet today also included the extension of the targeted protections which are in place for those negatively impacted by COVID-19, in arrears and at risk of homelessness. Subject to the eligible tenant making the necessary declaration they will be protected by rent increases and evictions until January 12th 2022.
Notes to Editors:
The intention of the legislation is to lower barriers to entry into the rental market, as there is anecdotal evidence of a growing practice of landlords requiring the payment of multiple months’ rent (or other payments such as ‘key money’) in advance, which is proving discriminatory against lower income groups including those in receipt of social housing supports.
This legislation would also apply to students residing under license in student-specific accommodation.
As things stand, the practice of paying a lump sum each term is a significant financial burden to many students and their families. For those who are receiving the SUSI grant, grant payments are made in nine monthly instalments meaning there is a disconnect between the schedule of payments expected by accommodation providers and the payments being received by grant holders.
A lowering of the upfront payments required for student accommodation could also help protect against losses such as those suffered by students in the privately-owned sector who were unable to get refunds for accommodation they vacated due to COVID-19. It could also lower barriers to entry to higher education, as the cost of accommodation represents a significant upfront expense for students attending institutions that are distant from their family home.
An opt out has been included in the new restrictions on upfront payments for students with tenancies in student specific accommodation, enabling them to continue to pay a lump sum each term if they so choose.
Also included in the proposed legislation is the requirement for a student residing in student specific accommodation to provide 28 days’ termination notice to the accommodation provider. Currently, the student is required to provide not less than 28 days’ notice.