Landlords may be forced to justify future rent hikes
Measures aimed at making it more difficult for landlords to raise rents and evict tenants are being teased out as a compromise in the long-running negotiations over the Government's housing package.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly has accepted that proposals to link increases in rent to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) are dead - but still wants other changes to the law that can be classified as achieving 'rent certainty'.
Mr Kelly met with Finance Minister Michael Noonan for more than an hour yesterday with sources on both sides describing the exchanges as "positive" and "constructive".
Tanaiste Joan Burton said last night it was "a very productive meeting at which great progress was made on a number of issues".
The Herald understands that both sides are now confident of an "acceptable compromise", although sources said it won't be finalised in time to be signed off by Cabinet this week.
Labour sources said Mr Kelly would be willing to drop his demands for CPI-linked rent certainty, provided Fine Gael is willing to go harder on landlords than has previously been signalled.
Central to the package is placing an obligation on landlords to give tenants longer notice periods.
At present, tenants who have lived in the same property for four years or more must be given a minimum of 112 days eviction notice.
However, under Department of Environment proposals, notice periods would be set at the following: five/six years - 140 days; six/seven years - 168 days; seven/eight years - 196 days and eight or more years - 224 days.
The plan is also believed to propose a requirement that landlords would provide tenants with evidence that rent hikes are justified.
Under the scenario, landlords would have to produce the rent costs charged by three owners of similar properties in their respective areas to justify the move.
Tenants would be entitled to demand such material when hit with a rent hike and take their landlords to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) if suitable evidence was not provided.
Asked directly whether rent certainty would be in the package, Ms Burton replied that there had been "very solid progress on all of the issues and headings".
A Cabinet sub-committee, attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ms Burton, also received a briefing from Dublin City Council on the homeless crisis yesterday.
Ms Burton said the Government would ensure that more accommodation for people sleeping rough will be made available in the coming weeks.
"As a Government we have all the structures in place to ensure that anybody who is sleeping rough over Christmas can have a roof over their head," she said.
The Tanaiste added that funding has already been allocated for this.