The Act introduces a number of measures with the aim of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on residential tenants.
The Act provides that Landlords cannot serve notice of termination on a tenant during the emergency period. Any such notice served during this time will be invalid.
Where a notice of termination has been served on a tenant prior to the emergency period, this notice shall be suspended for the duration of the period and shall resume once the emergency period expires.
Where there is a non-payment of rent, the RTA requires a landlord to serve a 14 day notice in writing on the tenant declaring the amount of rent due and unpaid before serving a notice of termination. The new legislation now extends this notice period to 28 days. However it will not be valid unless served after the emergency period.
Any increase in rent (whether notified to the tenant before or during the emergency period) shall not take effect during this time.
Any tenant upon whom a notice of termination has been served prior to the emergency period shall be entitled to remain in occupation of the dwelling until the expiration of the emergency period unless:
- They are required to vacate the dwelling in accordance with a determination of an adjudicator.
- They are required to vacate the dwelling in accordance with a determination of a tribunal of the Residential Tenancies Board.
Notices of termination
Under the Act, a landlord cannot serve a notice of termination during the Emergency Period. A “revised termination date” will apply to notices of termination served prior to, but which are due to expire during or after, the Emergency Period. The “revised termination date” is the sum of the following:
No rent increases shall take effect or be payable during the Emergency Period. While the Act unequivocally states that evictions will not be allowed during the Emergency Period, it also states that where a determination order or tribunal order is btained requiring a tenant to vacate that the tenant should do so.
All tenants – including those overholding – should adhere to their tenancy obligations during the Emergency Period.
The Emergency Period will be discounted when calculating the first six months of a new tenancy so that a landlord can serve a notice to avoid a Part 4 tenancy accruing at a later date. We recommend that any landlord who wishes to serve such a notice do so quickly following the expiration of the Emergency Period.
While landlords can still issue warning notices during the Emergency Period, any such notices should be carefully tailored and not provide for the service of termination notices during the Emergency Period.
Members of the travelling community should not be evicted from their current location during the Emergency Period except where, in consultation with that person, movement is required to ameliorate hardship and provide protection.
Tribunals will not be heard in public. However, we understand that in the immediate term the RTB has adjourned tribunals and adjudications.
Changes to Redundancy Payments legislation
The Act brings about significant changes to the rights of employees who are on lay-off and short-time in circumstances where there is a cessation or reduction in the work normally carried out by those employees and the employer reasonably believes that the cessation or reduction will be of a temporary nature.
In normal circumstances, an employee can serve notice on the employer of their intention to claim a redundancy payment where they have been laid off or placed on short-time for a period of four or more consecutive weeks, or for a series of six weeks within a thirteen week period.
However, Part 8 of the 2020 Act recognises that it may not be possible for employers to determine when an employee may be able to return to work.
Accordingly, Part 8 provides that employees on layoff or short time will not be in a position to claim a redundancy payment where the lay off or short time is as a result of measures required to be taken by his or her employer in order to comply with, or as a consequence of, Government policy to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of infection of COVID-19.
The emergency period for these changes is the period beginning 13 March 2020 and ending 31 May 2020.
The Act now provides for a smoother and more simplified process of recruiting retired health sector workers who wish to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.The relevant professions include:
- Health and Social Care Professionals (such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, radiographers, speech and language therapists etc.)
- Nurses and Midwives
Mental health during this crisis
The Act facilitates the ongoing operation of mental health tribunals and increases the number of psychiatrists available to the tribunal. The period in which the tribunal must make decisions on individual cases is also extended by the Act.
In response to the crisis and to minimise physical contact, the Act also allows for one-member tribunals and for a second psychiatrist to examine a patient remotely.
Legislation which allows retired soldiers to re-join the Defence Forces has been in the pipeline for a number of months and has now been fast tracked under the new Act in response to COVID-19.The amendments introduced will enable former members of the Defence Forces to re-join at the rank they left with no penalties.
Deadlines re planning and development
The Act provides that deadlines in relation to the following shall be disregarded:
- Planning and Development Act 2000,
- Certain sections of the Building Control Act 1990,
- The Derelict Sites Act 1990,
- Part 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015,
- Portions of the Strategic Housing legislation
The amendments in relation to civil registration aim to ensure that this service can effectively continue throughout the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Requirements to attend in person before the registrar to register a life event have been temporarily removed by the Act in order to facilitate self-isolation and social distancing.
The intention is that the necessary particulars required for a registration can be submitted by email or by post and that a signature can be obtained when the emergency has passed.
Intellectual Property Office
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland and the European Union Intellectual Property Office extended time limits for certain actions and time-limits.
From 13 March 2020 to 19 April 2020 (inclusive), the IPOI closed for the transaction of business with the public. Under the Trade Mark Acts and Rules, these are “excluded days” and therefore the deadline for doing anything required within that timeframe is extended (as matters stand) until 20 April 2020.
The IPOI will continue to deal with e-filings, process payments, and respond to email enquiries.
European Union Intellectual Property Office
The EUIPO has extended all time limits before it expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 to 1 May 2020. The reference to all time limits covers all procedural deadlines before the EUIPO and includes:-
- Payment of application fee
- Application for priority
- Opposition period
- Request for renewal
- Filing of an appeal and Statement of Grounds
The extension of time does not apply to an action before the General Court against a decision of the Boards of Appeal.
The EUIPO has confirmed that individual users will not be informed about the grant of an extension by means of an individual communication.
The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 (the Act) includes provisions to simplify the process by which certain professionals who were previously registered with a professional regulator can re-register with that regulator. These measures are designed to facilitate recruitment and re-employment of much needed professionals in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The UK has also recently introduced and passed legislation to assist professional regulators in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Act amends the primary legislation governing inter alia, doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and other health and social care professionals, in order to allow for previous registrants to apply to the respective regulators to have their names re-entered in the relevant register, on a temporary basis.
The provisions provide that the proposed registration is temporary and is to last until 31 July 2020 but the Minister for Health may extend this deadline. No fees (including retention fees) are to be charged in respect of this temporary registration.