MHC: Property professionals believe government housing policy relies too much on private sector

MHC: Property professionals believe government housing policy relies too much on private sector

Colm Farrell

The vast majority of property industry professionals believe that government housing policy disproportionately relies on the private sector to address the social and affordable housing crisis, according to a survey by business law firm Mason Hayes & Curran LLP.

The firm surveyed 200 industry leaders at its recent residential landlord and tenant update webinar, which focused on the recently introduced eviction ban, rent arrears procedure and other recent legislative changes relevant to the sector.

Colm Farrell, partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “The law in this area has always been particularly complicated. There has been a number of amending pieces of legislation including emergency legislation as a result of Covid-19.

“More recently we have seen additional legislation being introduced on a reactive base to deal with what’s going on in the market. As the law changes there is more opportunity for landlords and tenants to get the procedures wrong.”

The event discussed the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022, which came into effect on 29 October 2022 and covers a set period of time known as the ‘winter emergency period’, from 30 October 2022 to 31 March 2023.

“The legislation is aiming to slow down terminations in certain instances and to ensure that those whose tenancies have been terminated are not left without alternative accommodation during the winter period,” Mr Farrell said.

“However, practically speaking, one has to question whether or not this Act is going to serve its purpose and is the market really going to be any different at the end of the relevant terms?”

The survey found that the majority (60 per cent) prefer telephone mediation to in person/virtual mediation to resolve landlord/tenant disputes through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

Mr Farrell said: “The Residential Tenancies Board has moved to telephone mediation as the default position for dispute resolution for two main reasons: firstly, because it’s a free service, and secondly, because it’s a quicker process than trying to set up meetings, be they virtual or in-person.

“However, what we’re hearing from clients is that where you have two parties on two ends of a telephone call with a mediator, you don’t get the same buy-in as you do with an in-person or an online adjudication.”

The event also discussed recent amendments in the legislation around tenancies of unlimited duration, which were introduced this summer, and the additional obligations imposed on landlords by this legislation.

Respondents were split 50/50 on whether tenancies of unlimited duration will make a difference to how institutional landlords approach their operations.

Jamie Fitzmaurice, partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “Even though landlords continue to have the ability to terminate tenancies on specified grounds, the even split in the views from our respondents demonstrates that a very real level of uncertainty remains, which cannot be good for industry.”

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