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Landlords can no longer hit tenants with 4% rent hike from today, but SF criticises delay in law

The Bill was signed by the president last week but the regulation only commences from today.

Rent increases can only be linked to inflation from today.
Rent increases can only be linked to inflation from today.
Image: Shutterstock/Ingus Kruklitis

FROM TODAY LANDLORDS can no longer apply a 4% rent hike and must instead link any rent increases on properties in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to inflation.

Sinn Fein’s Eoin Ó Broin has said it is an “absolute disgrace” that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien waited a week before signing the commencement order of Section 6 of the Residential Tenancies Act.

He claims this has resulted in landlords still being able to hit tenants with rent reviews of 4% and 8% in some cases, over the last seven days.

The Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021 was brought forward to the Dáil by the housing minister last month.

It was passed in both the Dáil and the Seanad last week and was signed into law by the  President Michael D Higgins last Friday.

The Bill ensures rent increases must now be in line with the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP).

Recently, there were concerns that landlords would impose rent increases of up to 8% on tenants once the temporary ban on evictions and a rent freeze set during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic came to an end. 

However, this law will not allow for an 8% rise. 

The Residential Tenancies Board confirmed the new rent increase rules only come into operation today, on foot of the necessary commencement order being signed by the housing minister yesterday.

Accordingly, any valid notice of rent review now served in relation to a tenancy in a Rent Pressure Zone cannot provide for a rent increase that exceeds inflation.

A spokesperson for the minister said because Section 6 created a new offence it had to be lodged with the Supreme Court.

“The Act was enrolled by the Supreme Court and published on the Irish Statute Book on 15 July 2021 and the minister immediately made the necessary commencement order to bring Section 6 of the Act into operation from today – 16 July,” they said. 

The commencement order was done “as quickly as it could be done”, they told The Journal.

Ó Broin said: “It is an absolute disgrace that Minister O’Brien waited a full week before Commencing Section 6 of the Residential Tenancies Act. This means that for a full week after the passing of the legislation landlords were still able to hit tenants with rent reviews of 4%, 8% and in come cases 12%.”

“I have been inundated with calls and messages from such tenants desperate to know if such rent reviews are legally valid,” he added.

“Because of the minister’s delay in this any notice served before Friday 16 July is entitled to use the old RPZ annual 4% limit. And if the tenants did not receive a rent review in the previous two or three years the limit is 8% and 12%.

“Once again Darragh O’Brien has let renters down at the very moment he was promising to protect them,” said the Sinn Féin housing spokesperson.

It has been confirmed that any valid notice of rent review in a Rent Pressure Zone served prior to today can give effect to a rent increase of up to 4%.

The landlord can only increase the rent every two years, and must give a tenant proper notice of the amount of the proposed new rent and the date from which it is to take effect.

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Landlords must use the RTB’s Notice of Rent Review Form when issuing a rent review - other forms of communication about the rent increase, such as emails, text messages and spoken messages are not valid forms of notice under the law.

Tenants must get at least 90 days’ notice of a rent review, meaning the new rent cannot then apply until 90 days after the notice has been issued.

The landlord must also notify the RTB of the revised rent so that it can update the registration details of the tenancy.

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