On Wednesday, 17 March, the Saeima adopted in the final reading a new Law on Residential Tenancy. A new law was necessary to improve the existing regulatory framework, provide a balanced amount of obligations and rights for tenants and landlords, and resolve other issues related to tenancy rights.
The new Law will increase access to housing by ensuring the protection of interests of landlords and tenants. The Law will govern the legal relations between the landlord and the tenant of a residential space and define their general rights, obligations, and liabilities, conditions for terminating rental agreements, and the basic provisions of residential tenancy agreements.
According to the new Law, a residential tenancy or sub‑tenancy agreement is the only grounds for a tenant or sub‑tenant to use a residential space. The agreement is concluded between the landlord and the tenant, and the provisions of the agreement may be amended upon written agreement of the parties.
From now on, a rental agreement may only be entered into for a specific period of time, and it must include, among other things, the amount of rental payment and the procedures and due dates of the payments. The provisions of a rental contract may be amended on the basis of a written agreement between the tenant and the landlord. If an option to increase rental payment for the residential space is provided for in the agreement, as well as the principles and procedures for increasing the payment, the amount of rental payment may be changed. According to the new Law, upon the expiration of a rental agreement, the rental space must be vacated, unless a new rental agreement is concluded. Like before, a rental agreement may be terminated by the tenant with prior notification to the landlord, while the landlord may only terminate a rental agreement in accordance with the procedures specified in the Law.
From now on, when signing a rental agreement, the parties may jointly decide to receive a notarial certification of the rental agreement or enter the agreement in the Land Register. This will ensure that information about concluded rental agreements is reliable and publicly available. It will also help prevent the signing of fictitious agreements. Moreover, the registration of a rental agreement will help reduce dispute resolution time in case the tenant commits a major breach of the rental agreement, according to the explanatory note of the Draft Law.
The registration of a rental agreement will be exempt from the office fee for corroborating or changing rental rights in the Land Register.
The new Law also stipulates that the landlord may not prohibit the tenant from declaring the rented residential space as the place of residence of the tenant and their family members.
In case of death of the tenant, one of their family members may request to enter into a rental agreement with the landlord under the same provisions. According to the new Law, the duration of such an agreement may not exceed 10 years.
The Law also includes provisions regarding the renting out of residential spaces owned or rented by a municipality, and the renting out of official residential spaces owned by the State.
The Law provides for a transition period until 31 December 2036. Rental agreements that will not have been changed by 31 December 2026 and regarding which no action will have been brought in court, will remain in force until the end of the transition period.
The new Law on Residential Tenancy will enter into force on 1 May 2021.
Saeima Press Service