herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Register of rents bid to stop rip-off landlords

Photo: Stock
Photo: Stock

A rent register showing the average price in local areas is set to be introduced in a bid to expose rip-off landlords.

The proposal involves the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) compiling a list of rents in an apartment block or group of streets and publishing the average price.

It is part of a series of measures to be considered by the Cabinet today.

These also include the extension of minimum notice periods that landlords must give tenants from 42 days to four months.

Transparency

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will produce the general scheme of legislation to underpin widespread change in the rental sector aimed at softening price hikes.

According to the RTB, in the final quarter of 2017 the national average rent for new tenancies was €1,054 a month.

For the same period, a year earlier, it had been €990.

In Dublin, the average rent stood at €1,511.

Central to a set of actions to be put forward by the minister to the Cabinet today will be "rent transparency".

The Herald understands that Mr Murphy is seeking legal advice from the Attorney General and Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) about the introduction of a national rent register.

The RTB already gathers information on rents payable in towns around the country .

The minister wants to narrow this detail down to specific estates, apartment blocks or streets.

"This would allow renters to assess prevailing rent levels in an area, as well as the previous rent paid," a source said.

"Transparency is necessary to protect people from being ripped off, but we have to balance that with privacy rights, and the Data Protection Commissioner will advise on that."

Also included in the plan being brought to Cabinet today is a proposal to make it a criminal offence for landlords to implement increases that contravene the rules around rent pressure zones (RPZs).

These set the limit of the increases that landlords can apply to 4pc a year.

In a move that is likely to be opposed by landlords' organisations, the minister also plans to increase the minimum notice periods that must be given before a tenant has to vacate a property.

He proposes increasing the notice for tenancies of more than six months but less than one year from 35 to 90 days, and a notice period of 120 days for those more than one year in rented accommodation.

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