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As a landlord, what can I do at the end of a fixed tenancy if Part 4 rules apply?

The following is a query a reader submitted to the Irish Times which Winters MD, Enda Mc Guane answered. Enda is a chartered planning and development surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie.

Q: As a landlord when the fixed tenancy reaches its expiry is there any advantage and can the tenant be required to enter another fixed tenancy? As I understand things the fixed tenancy is irrelevant after 6 months when the tenant gains rights under a Part 4 tenancy. Strangely my insurance company asks if I have a fixed term tenancy in place and I can’t understand the relevance of this question given the Part 4 tenancy rights gained by the tenant.

Property Clinic: Tenants become entitled to provision of Part 4 tenancy after six months

A: Thank you for your query and you have a good understanding of the legislation as it currently applies. The last variation to the legislation was the Residential Tenancies Act 2020 which came into effect in October last.  

While a fixed term tenancy lasts for a specific amount of time as set out in your tenancy agreement or lease. Many landlords mistakenly assume that a Fixed Term tenancy automatically gives them the right to terminate the lease on expiry. However, a ‘part 4’ tenancy also runs alongside a fixed-term tenancy.

This means that the tenant shall, after a period of six months, become entitled to the provision of a ‘Part 4’ tenancy. A Part 4 tenancy means the tenants can stay in the property for a further five and a half years or three and a half years if the tenancy commenced before 24 December 2016, subject to certain exceptions for termination.

So, in short, the answer to your first question is no you cannot compel the tenant to enter another fixed term tenancy as they have at this point moved into a Part 4 tenancy. Even if you did put another Fixed Term agreement in place under the tenant will have gained under law the rights and entitlements associated with a Part 4 tenancy.

There are only six reasons the tenancy can be terminated, these are:

  1. The tenant has breached their responsibilities.
  2. The property is not suited to the tenant’s needs.
  3. The landlord requires the property for personal or family use.
  4. The landlord wants to sell the property.
  5. Significant refurbishment of the property
  6. The use of the property is changing.

Since the 31st of December, a moratorium on evictions is under place and this is now due to expire on the 15th of March 2021 (5th March plus a 10-day grace period). This is similar to restrictions in place during the lockdowns in 2020. However, since the Act was introduced in October any time there is a 5km restriction imposed on people’s movements in line with public health restrictions, the moratorium on evictions (with limited exceptions) will automatically kick-in with this grace period.

The second part of your question relates to a query you have received from your insurers, you have the landlord’s insurance policy which is good to hear. Obviously, when it comes to insurance, the “devil is in the detail”, and there are precise definitions of cover, and this may explain the query from your insurer. Can I suggest that you engage directly with your insurer and establish the reason they require this information and then check your policy document in detail for any exclusions that may be contained in the policy document. As with all insurance matters, it’s important to get good advice from an appropriate insurance professional to ensure that you have appropriate levels of cover based on the value of your possessions and needs. 

 

See more property clinic queries here. 

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