herald

Saturday 21 September 2019

'Minister must close rights loophole for tenants in co-living'

Eoghan Murphy
Eoghan Murphy

A Dublin councillor has said the Government must move to ensure tenants' rights for people living in new co-living arrangements.

It emerged yesterday that Bartra Capital, which is behind plans for a new co-living scheme in Dun Laoghaire, has argued that the protections of the Residential Tenancies Act don't apply to shared living residents.

Under the plans, a "licensing/club arrangement" would be in place for occupants.

Green Party councillors are calling on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to take action on the issue.

"We will be asking the council as a whole to write to the minister," Cllr Hazel Chu told the Herald.

Loophole

She said they are hoping that Mr Murphy will look at the issue, and see whether 'club membership' or other licences could be brought under Section Four of the Residential Tenancies Act.

"If there is a loophole there, let's fix the loophole now before these developments come on line," said Ms Chu.

The Sunday Business Post reported yesterday that legal opinion prepared for the company stated that rental and tenancy regulations are not applicable to communal living because occupants' bedspaces are not self-contained residential units.

"Co-living arrangements are normally for short-term periods and are governed by a contract," a spokesperson for Bartra told the Herald.

"The contract involves a fixed price from which it's not possible for the operator to divert from during its duration.

Councillor Hazel Chu
Councillor Hazel Chu

"International experience has shown people typically stay in shared living for less than a year.

"As co-living involves shared common space as well as regular cleaning of bedrooms for which access is needed by the company, it therefore requires a different legal arrangement to a standard RTB (Residential Tenancies Board) agreement."

It said last week that single people have been priced out of the areas that Bartra has targeted for co-living.

"Our co-living offering will make living in these areas more affordable than one-bedroom apartments in these areas," said the spokesperson.

"It is a chronically needed form of accommodation for single people just as apartments, houses and social housing are chronically needed for families and couples."

Concept

The Housing Minister has previously said he will keep every aspect of co-living under review as it develops given that it is a new concept for Ireland.

It is understood that many people opting for co-living may only be looking for short-term or flexible lease arrangements.

A source told the Herald the main focus has been, and remains, protecting tenants' rights in the longer-term rental market, with reforms in this area enacted before the summer break.

The focus on the build side remains on houses and apartments which make up 100pc of all new builds this year.

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