herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Landlords threaten new series of charges to get round rent cap

Minister Simon Coveney
Minister Simon Coveney

Landlords are threatening a backlash in response to a new law aimed at capping rent increases at 4pc a year.

The move, by Housing Minister Simon Coveney, caused three days of bitter political rows with Fianna Fail, underpinning the minority coalition and other opposition parties who have said the measure is not good enough.

Parking

However, a group representing landlords has also warned it may withdraw from state-subsidised rent schemes and introduce a series of new charges for tenants on things such as keys, parking and administrative costs to claw back some cash.

Government chief whip Regina Doherty, of Fine Gael, rounded on the Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA), which represents 5,000 landlords, saying it was an "outrageous" warning.

"It's statements like that which give landlords a bad name," she said, questioning how many property owners the organisation actually represents.

Ms Doherty defended the new law, saying it would help tenants keep their homes by moderating rent increases.

She thanked opposition parties for their help in ensuring passage of the law, despite difficulties, including a mistake in the drafting process.

However, the IPOA said it was seriously contemplating its strategy for the future. The rent caps are expected to apply in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) covering all of Co Dublin and Cork city from next month.

Limerick, Waterford and Galway and Dublin's commuter belt are expected to be included from later next year. Other parts of the country can then be designated as RPZs.

"Property owners could not get sufficient income to maintain their property. The measures being introduced are so severe that rents will not cover costs and devaluation of property will be significant, all adding to the exit of the investor," the IPOA warned. "It is notable that the Government and those demanding change are oblivious to the huge burden that all these measures will have on the tenants and the loss of supply."

The IPOA said service charges, registration fees, car parking fees, letting costs and call-out payments are being examined.

Damages

Landlords could pass on the property tax to tenants. Other charges include full compensation for damages and legal costs for anti-social behaviour.

Following a row over mistakes in the legal text, Mr Cove- ney said his department had checked the new wording to ensure that rents in designated areas do not increase by more than 4pc per year.

He added that his team worked late into the night and took advice from the Attorney General.

Some TDs have warned that rents could rise by 8pc.

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