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New laws to punish landlords who raise rents above legal limit to be brought to Cabinet

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy confirmed that the Bill will be brought to Cabinet next Tuesday.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy
Image: Leah Farrell

LEGISLATION WHICH WILL see landlords who raise the rent more than the legally allowed limit reprimanded will be brought to Cabinet next Tuesday, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy confirmed today.

In April, Murphy announced proposed new measures that would form part of the new Residential Tenancies Bill.

Speaking at the launch of Threshold’s annual report, Murphy confirmed that the Bill will be brought to Cabinet next Tuesday.

Today, Murphy reiterated a number of measures the new Bill will bring in.

Among these is a planned law making it an offence for landlords with properties in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to raise the rent above the legally allowed 4%. A detailed analysis of RPZs can be read here.

“It’s also going to give the [Residential Tenancies Board] independent powers to examine and enforce any breaches of those rent caps, which I think is necessary,” Murphy told reporters at the event.

Currently, a complaint needs to be made by an existing tenant before it can investigate.

The Bill will also contain measures to increase the notice periods for tenants facing eviction, to give them a longer time in the property before they have to leave.

Furthermore, it will allow for a public register of rents in a certain area, so that tenants will know what they should be paying.

“I think it’s very important that, as we build new homes, at the same time we’re also bringing in stronger protections for rents as well,” Murphy said.

Sanctions

In April, the minister said a new sanctions regime would make it a criminal offence to breach the rules. He suggested that a number of measures would be rolled out and implemented by the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board), including fines.

Murphy said that the fine being considered would be in the region of €15,000.

TheJournal.ie reported in November that the degree to which landlords can be reprimanded under the new laws was still being discussed at government level.

Speaking today, Murphy said: “Where a landlord, a rogue landlord, is in breach of the rent caps, there will be sanctions, there will be fines, there will be criminal fines.”

When questioned further on the implementation of sanctions, Murphy said he would clarify “what the actual sanctions are for people who are in breach of RPZs in terms of the caps next week” when the legislation is published.

“What we know is that RPZs have worked in terms of having a dampening effect on rent inflation, but we know they need to be strengthened because we are hearing reports of landlords who are in breach of them,” Murphy said.

RPZ criticism

In November, a number of politicians hit out at the current rent control laws after the latest Daft.ie quarterly report found that the average monthly rent nationwide is €1,334, which is €304 higher per month than at the Celtic Tiger peak.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD said that the 11.3% annual rise in rent prices across the State demonstrates that RPZs are failing to protect new entrants to the market.

“Rent Pressure Zones are clearly not working for new entrants to the rental market or people who have to move,” Ó Broin said.

The Rent Pressure Zone legislation is failing new entrants to the rental market. Asking for new lets are very clearly circumventing the 4% cap and this is adding to the housing affordability crisis.

Ó Broin called for an immediate three-year rent freeze to be introduced, alongside tax reliefs for tenants, as he said “the time for a measured response to this crisis has long passed”.

Echoing the words of Ó Broin, Labour’s housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan TD said that RPZs are “clearly not working”.

Note: Journal Media Ltd has shareholders in common with Daft.ie publisher Distilled Media Group.

With reporting by Cormac Fitzgerald and Christina Finn

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