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Laws trying to combat rising rents are being 'flouted by landlords'

Charities have expressed serious concern has private market rents continue to grow.

Image: Shutterstock/Solnechnaja

LANDLORDS ARE FLOUTING laws around rent increases for properties which is putting extra pressure on tenants, a leading housing charity has warned.

Threshold said that Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) legislation is not being followed by some landlords and that this is having a negative effect on tenants looking for a place to live.

The charity called on government to introduce a publicly accessible rent register which would record every change of rent on a property so prospective new tenants could know what they should be paying.

The call comes following the release of the Daft quarterly rental report which showed record high prices and record low properties available to rent across the country.

Rents nationwide jumped 11.8% in the first six months of the year, with the average asking price for a rental nationwide now €1,159 per month.

There were just 2,930 properties available to rent across Ireland on 1 August, the lowest number ever recorded.

Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said that the report showed the urgent need to increase the supply of affordable homes in the private rental sector.

The government last year introduced rental caps laws for some areas around the country. Under the legislation, certain areas are designated as Rent Pressure Zones.

In these zones landlords are not allowed to raise the rent by more than 4% a year. As well as this, a new tenant in a property can only be charged 4% more than what a previous tenant was paying.

However, McCafferty says that this law is being broken by landlords.

“It isn’t legal for a landlord to evict a tenant and then look for a very substantial rise afterwards,” McCafferty told TheJournal.ie.

“We’re hearing that people who want to rent and go to rent either don’t know for sure whether the rent is correct and they can’t challenge it until after the fact.

And there will always be someone at the viewing who is able to pay a higher level because of how few properties are available.

McCafferty said that a publicly accessible register of rental prices would help to combat this.

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The lack of available properties in the private rental market has been highlighted by homelessness and housing charities as one of the main issues driving family homelessness.

Latest figures from the Housing Department, found that there were 1,365 families with 2,895 children homeless across Ireland in June.

According to research from Focus Ireland, the vast majority of families becoming homeless is as a result of the immediate crisis in the private rental sector.

This is a view echoed by other organisations in the sector. Earlier this month, charities strongly criticised government after Census 2016 data showed a significant increase in homeless numbers since 2011.

“More affordable private rental supply is badly needed to prevent more people from becoming homeless and ensure that people can leave homelessness behind,” said Niamh Randall, spokesperson with the Simon Community.

Threshold’s McCafferty said that lower-income families are being “priced out of the market”.

Charities have also blamed the ongoing crisis on a lack of affordable and social housing being built over a sustained period of time.

Read: The number of rental properties in Ireland is at its lowest in recorded history

Read: ‘Penalties are coming’: Minister puts householders with vacant second home on notice

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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