New tenancy protections against 'Vulture funds' come online today

The so-called "Tyrrelstown amendment" is set to come into effect alongside the government's housing action plan

New tenancy protections against 'Vulture funds' come online today

Simon Coveney speaking to the media outside the Custom House, Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

New laws aimed at protecting renters from eviction by landlords and so-called ‘vulture funds’ will come into force today.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill brings the government’s housing action plan into effect.

As part of the plan, rent increases will be limited to 4% per year in several “rent pressure areas” throughout the country.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the overall plan aims to bring about greater security of tenure and rent certainty for both landlords and tenants - while also aiming to improve the quality of rental accommodation.

Tyrrelstown amendment

The new legislation will also bring the so-called “Tyrrelstown amendment” into effect.

The legislation is aimed at protecting tenants from eviction when ownership of medium-sized and large-scale developments is sold in bulk.

The amendment was proposed following the news that an American multi-national finance company had purchased an €89m loan from Ulster Bank that been secured against the Cruise Park estate in Tyrrelstown.

Dozens of families in the development were served with eviction notices following the change of ownership.

The amendment was tabled in response to the crisis and - following much debate over the numbers involved - will now prevent landlords or large-scale funds from evicting more than ten tenancies at once.

However, the amendment can be circumvented if a property owner can prove that the selling price of the house would rise by 20% if there was no tenant in place.

The legislation has been cautiously welcome in some quarters - however it has also faced criticism for not going far enough.

Anti-Evictions Bill

The Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit will introduce a separate bill this evening aimed at firmly closing “loopholes allowing legal eviction” ahead of a property sale or rent increase.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD, Ruth Coppinger

If enacted, the legislation would ensure that a tenant can remain in their home - under the same terms and conditions - when a property is sold by a landlord, bank or ‘vulture fund.’

It would also require compensation of six months’ rent to be paid to tenant when they are evicted on the basis that a landlord - or a member of a landlord’s family – plans to move in to the property.

Finally it would reduce the period of time before a tenancy is given ‘Part 4’ status from six months to two months.

Balancing act

David Hall from the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation told Newstalk Breakfast that both pieces of legislation face a balancing act between protecting the right of tenants - and the rights of landlords.

“It is trying to get that balance correct as in what is proportionate and what is not proportionate,” he said.

“They cannot throw anyone out in groups - such as Tyrrelstom and such as Limerick - however they can still do so in batches of ten."

Mr Hall said the AAA-PBP bill would “absolutely” provide greater protections for tenants.

“There are a couple of parts to it that are very, very good,” he said. “There are one or two that I don’t know how they might introduce it or how it might be supervised or policed by the tenancies board.”

“In other jurisdictions there is a six month penalty given to tenants where it is found the landlord is bringing in a family member and all they want to do is throw out the tenant.

“I think it will be difficult to impose but I think the intent will be good.”

He said the section fo the bill dealing with 'Part 4' tenancies is "far more attractive looking " but warned that there are still challenges regarding the rights of landlords. 

The bill is due for debate in the Dáil this evening.