What is Student Specific Accommodation?
Student Specific Accommodation (SSA) is purpose-built student accommodation and accommodation that is let for the sole purpose of providing accommodation to students during the academic year.
Is Student Specific Accommodation under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board?
The Residential Tenancies Act (Amendment) Act 2019 brought SSA under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) on 15 July 2019. Higher Educational Institutions who provide SSA to students during the academic year and purpose built SSA provided by the private sector are under the remit of the RTB regardless of whether there is a lease or license agreement in place. Rent a Room, DIGS Style Accommodation and short-term lets do not fall within the RTB’s remit.
How is a student defined?
A student is defined under the Residential Tenancies Act as a person registered as a student with a relevant provider within the meaning of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012.
Does Student Specific Accommodation need to be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board?
All student tenancies and licences entered into on or after the 15 July 2019 must be registered with the RTB within one month of the tenancy start date. You can search to see if a tenancy is registered on the RTB website (link)
Can students apply for Dispute Resolution with the Residential Tenancies Board?
All students can apply for Dispute Resolution with the RTB even if their landlord has not registered their tenancy. This service can be used for issues such as:
Rent setting and rent reviews
Breaches of obligation such as anti-social behaviour
How can the rent be set and reviewed in Student Specific Accommodation?
All SSA providers must comply with the law governing rent reviews. There are specific processes for rents setting and rent reviews. (links to RPZ and non RPZ). There is no obligation on a landlord to increase the rent and there is no legal obstacle to a rent reduction.
Does a student have security of tenure?
The normal Part 4/security of tenure rights (link) whereby a tenant after six months of the tenancy has the right to remain for a further five and a half years do not apply to SSA.
How much deposit and rent in advance does a student have to pay?
The Residential Tenancies (No.2) Act 2021 was enacted and apart from section 6, came into operation on 9 July 2021. This limits the amount of deposit and/or rent in advance that landlords can ask people to pay to secure a tenancy. A deposit cannot exceed more than one month’s rent and an advance payment of rent cannot exceed one month’s rent. There is an exception to these new rules for students who occupy Student Specific Accommodation (SSA). They may pay more than one month’s rent in advance if they wish to do so and with the agreement of the accommodation provider.
How much notice does a student need to give if they want to leave?
Students who are residing at SSA are only required to give 28 days’ notice to the provider of SSA if they want to terminate the tenancy arrangement. Students may give a longer period of notice if they wish, but there is no requirement in law to do so. This came in under The Residential Tenancies (No.2) Act 2021 on 9 July 2021. However, if you have a fixed term lease, you are expected to remain for the term of the lease, unless there is a breach on the landlord’s part. There could be financial consequences if you break your lease and leave during the term. Students living in SSAs often have a fixed term lease. You should contact Threshold if you are unsure whether you can serve notice or not.
Sample notice of termination
How much notice does a landlord of Student Specific Accommodation need to give to end a tenancy?
Providers of SSA must also provide a minimum of 28 days’ notice to end a tenancy agreement with a student tenant. Once there has been no breach of obligations and the tenancy has lasted more than six months, providers of SSA are now required to provide the same amount of notice period as the private rental sector, which is related to the length of the tenancy (link). Providers of SSA must also honour the term of a fixed term lease which means you can’t be served notice during the term. If you breach your tenancy conditions, however, you may be served a 28-day notice for tenant breach, or a 7-day notice for anti-social behaviour. Students living in SSAs often have a fixed term lease. You should contact Threshold if you are unsure whether you can serve notice or not.
Does the RTB sanctioning regime for improper conduct by landlords apply to student-specific accommodation?
Yes. The RTB has an Investigations and Sanctions unit (link) dedicated to investigating certain potential breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 by a landlord. The breaches of the law that the RTB can investigate are referred to as “Improper Conduct”. Improper conduct has been extended to include the seeking by a landlord of an advance payment of an amount more than the equivalent of two month’s rent.