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What happens if I can't pay my rent during COVID-19?

New legislation means that landlords are not allowed to evict tenants during the crisis


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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Starting from Friday, 27 March 2020, new emergency measures were introduced into law to protect tenants (renters) during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency period. Tenants cannot be forced to leave their rental accommodation, other than in exceptional circumstances, during the COVID-19 emergency. To begin with, these emergency laws will last for three months, but may be extended if the Government thinks it is needed.

What are the rent rules during COVID-19?

Find out your rights as a tenant and what to do if you can't pay your rent.

Can I be evicted during the COVID-19 emergency?

A notice of termination (eviction) cannot be given during the COVID-19 emergency period. All notices of termination which were given before the emergency period are paused and tenants, in general, cannot be forced to leave their rented accommodation during this time.

What happens if I can't pay my rent during the COVID-19 emergency?

If you have lived at a property for less than six months and have been given a written warning from your landlord that your rent has not been paid, you will have 28 days (increased from 14) to pay the money that is owed before your landlord can take any further action.

This is to allow time for the tenant to arrange for income support to be put in place. After that time, if the tenant and landlord are unable to agree a way to pay the money owed, the landlord cannot issue a notice of termination during the emergency period.

If you cannot pay your rent it is best to be honest with your landlord and to contact them as soon as possible so that you can organise a solution together. If you are anxious or unsure about how to talk to your landlord there are supports that can help. Contact Threshold and they can offer you advice on the best ways to communicate with your landlord during the pandemic.

Can my rent be increased during the COVID-19 emergency?

All notices of rent increase, which were given to tenants before the emergency period and were meant to start during this time, are now paused. While tenants are meant to continue to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency period, landlords are not allowed to increase the amount of rent they have to pay during this time.

What rules are in place for renters during the COVID-19 emergency?

The following rules will be in place during the emergency period:

  • Tenants have to continue to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency period
  • Landlord obligations (what they legally have to do) in relation to the property and the tenant also remain unchanged during the emergency period
  • Landlords are encouraged to stay in contact with their tenants during the emergency period
  • Tenants are encouraged to contact their landlords and the Department of Employment and Social Protection as soon as possible, if they cannot afford to pay their rent 
  • Income supports and rent supplement are available for those struggling with payments

I was given my notice of eviction before COVID-19, what happens now?

If you were given a notice of eviction before the new emergency legislation came into place, any time during the emergency period does not count towards your notice period (the amount of time you are given to leave a property).

This means that the notice period is paused for the duration of the emergency. The amount of notice normally required to end a tenancy (rental agreement) depends on how long the renter has lived in the property:

  • For tenancies of less than six months, the notice period is 28 days
  • For tenancies of more than six months, but less than one year the notice period is 90 days 
  • For tenancies of more than one year, but less than three years the notice period is 120 days 
  • For tenancies of more than three years, but less than seven years the notice period is 180 days
  • For tenancies of more than seven years, but less than eight years the notice period is 196 days
  • For tenancies of eight years or more the notice period is 224 days

For example, where a tenancy rental agreement has been in place for between seven and eight years, the renter has 196 days to leave the property. If a notice of eviction was given on 1 January 2020, the tenancy would normally end on 15 July 2020.

With the introduction of emergency legislation, the notice period is paused from 27 March 2020 for the duration of the emergency period (currently three months), and the tenancy would end on 15 October 2020. If the emergency period is extended, then the notice period will also extend by the same amount of time.

Visit Threshold.ie for more information on your rights as a renter. 

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?

This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You're worth talking about and we're here to listen and support you.

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Published April 30th2020
Last updated August 3rd2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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