Landlords evicting tenants so they can retrofit their homes must “return” the property, according to a housing minister.
Suspicions have recently been raised by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) that tenants are being evicted as a result of the government’s new retrofit grants.
RTB chairman Tom Dunne recently told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that landlords could use the retrofit program to evict tenants and that it could become a “problem”.
Under RTB rules, tenants can be evicted if the property is due to undergo major renovations.
However, a housing minister has now clarified that landlords must “return” the property once the work is complete.
“The property must be returned to the former tenant on completion of such work, with the tenant providing the contact details for any such offer,” Deputy Housing Secretary Malcolm Noonan said.
“The current protections for renters when a landlord terminates a tenancy because he or she needs vacant property to perform a major refurbishment or renovation of the rental property is sufficiently robust.”
Minister Noonan added that the “vast majority” of the retrofit work will be “non-invasive”, suggesting tenants will not be asked to move out.
“Robust mechanisms are already in place and the vast majority of retrofit work in rental properties, such as B. installing attic insulation and pumping insulation into walls will be non-invasive,” he added.
“In some cases, major upgrades would not normally require a occupant to leave the property. The protection is there.”
The government recently introduced new grants to encourage the retrofitting of 500,000 homes by 2030. Homeowners doing minor work can get 80 percent of the cost subsidized.
In the case of a complete major renovation of a house, the state would subsidize half the cost. The property owner would then have to pay 26,000 euros out of his own pocket.
But Social Democrat TD Cian O’Callaghan raised concerns that landlords would evict tenants, retrofit their properties and then put them back on the rental market for higher rents.
“It is reasonable that if public money is used it should not result in an eviction or rent increase,” he said.
“According to applicable law, the tenant is obliged to complain. In such circumstances, tenants are often not reimbursed for their rent.”
Similar concerns have also been raised by opposition politicians, who have called on the government to implement further legislative changes to protect renters.
However, this was ruled out by Minister Noonan in parliamentary questions. He said it was “clear” that if a house were to be vacated for renovations, it should be offered back up for sale once it was completed.
“It is quite clear that if a vacant property is sought for substantial work to be done on the property, that property must be returned to the tenant.”
“One of the reasons you can ask a tenant to vacate the property is if the property is in need of a major makeover,” Mr. Dunne told the PAC.
“If you incentivize property owners to raise insulation standards etc, some landlords might choose to do the work.
“In order to do this work, they may need to get the tenant out of the property. So that could be one of the problems that can arise from that.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/renters-to-be-offered-back-homes-after-retrofit-is-complete-41413877.html Tenants are to be offered back home once the retrofit is complete