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Written Answers. - Private Rented Accommodation.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 184. Dr. Upton   asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  his plans to renew the protection afforded by the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10385/02]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Molloy): Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy The Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982, confers a right to retain possession, as a tenant, of a formerly rent controlled dwelling for the lifetime of the person who was the tenant at the commencement of the Act – 26 July 1982 – and for the lifetime of their spouse. Where a member or successor members of the tenant's family succeed to the tenancy within 20 years of the commencement of the Act, the right to retain possession as a tenant under the 1982 Act continues to 25 July 2002, or until the tenancy has lasted a minimum of 5 years.

Once protection for successor tenants ceases under the 1982 Act, I am advised that they may be entitled to claim a long equity lease of up to 35 years under Part II of the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act, 1980. If the landlord is unwilling to grant such a lease, the tenant may apply to the Circuit Court to determine a tenant's entitlement and also to set the rent and other tenancy terms in the absence of agreement between the parties.

Acquisition of a long equity lease provides significant benefits for tenants. They acquire the right to retain possession of the dwelling and are subject to rent reviews at intervals of not less than [862] five years. The court, in determining the rent, has regard to market value but also takes into account the addition to the letting value of any improvement works carried out to the dwelling by the tenant.

My main area of concern will be to avoid the creation of hardship for low income successor tenants moving from a position where rents are set by the rent tribunal – taking into account the means of the tenant and of the landlord – to a position where the rent approaches the levels applicable in the open market.

Under the present terms of the special rent allowance scheme operated by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs for tenants in this sector, entitlement to rent allowance ceases when protection under the 1982 Act ceases. Proposals for an appropriate form of means-related rent assistance in such cases are being prepared in consultation with the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and it is intended to seek Government approval of these within the coming weeks.

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