Our Response to Level 2 COVID-19
Read More

Rent Freeze

IMPORTANT UPDATE – COVID-19 Freeze on Rent Increases

There is now a freeze on rent increases.

  • A rent increase notice from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent unless the rent increase has already taken effect.
  • Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when the notice was provided.
  • Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal if they wish.
  • Tenants will have the ability to revoke termination notices that they have already given, in case they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period.

It’s worth mentioning that some tenants have misheard/misinterpreted this information and have been calling into our office to confirm if a rent freeze means they don’t have to pay rent. This is not the case. Rent is still due in full.

Period of the measures:

  • The measures take effect by Thursday, 26 March
  • The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months.
  • The protections against terminations will apply for an initial period of three months.
  • At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.

Q: What I have already negotiated an increase, taking effect this week?
A: If the increase was negotiated or a rent increase served, but it will not come into effect until after the Bill comes into force, that increase is of no effect.

Q: Will tenants still be liable for rent arrears?
A: Yes, tenants are still liable for all rent owed. If there are any disputes about the amount owed, tenants and landlords should first discuss this and attempt to reach a resolution. If they cannot reach an agreement, the Tenancy Tribunal is able to determine such matters.

Q: What will prevent tenants from abusing the new rules by refusing to pay rent?
A: Landlords will still be able to take tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal if tenants have not paid rent owing to the landlord for a period longer than 60 days. The Tribunal will have powers to evaluate whether the tenant is making reasonable endeavors to pay rent and balance the interests of the tenant and landlord in deciding whether termination is justified. Tenants refusing to pay rent could be liable for eviction if that the Tribunal found the tenant was not making reasonable endeavors to pay rent. If a landlord cannot terminate a tenancy, a tenant is nonetheless liable for rent arrears. Tenants must also still meet all of their other obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act.

More to come.

Further resources: