herald

Thursday 24 May 2018

Rogue landlords face €15k fines and jail for raising rents too high

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy spoke about the measures
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy spoke about the measures

Rogue landlords are set to face fines of €15,000 and potential jail terms under a proposed Government crackdown.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has received Cabinet approval to draw up the new Residential Tenancies Bill.

The planned law would make it a criminal offence to breach the 4pc rent increase limit in areas designated as rent pressure zones.

Mr Murphy said figures being considered for fines imposed on landlords found guilty of the offence were "upwards of €15,000".

Possible jail terms would be explored in other future legislation, he added.

The heads of the new Bill that will include fines are to be drawn up and Mr Murphy said he hoped it could be passed before the summer recess.

Other measures include giving the Residential Tenancies Board the power to pursue anonymous complaints; creating a register for greater transparency on rent levels; and longer notice periods for tenants.

Elitist

Mr Murphy said that while most landlords were "excellent", the planned legislation was "about clamping down on that small number of people who are acting outside of the law and are treating tenants unfairly".

The minister hit out at remarks by Fianna Fail TD Darragh O'Brien, who claimed that he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were failing to solve the housing crisis owing to what he described as their "elitist" and "cosseted" backgrounds.

Mr Murphy said this was a "useless" contribution to the housing debate and claimed Fianna Fail was trying to undermine the confidence and supply agreement with Fine Gael.

He said it was the Government's responsibility to fix the housing crisis, adding: "Fianna Fail's only experience in housing was to break our housing sector, break our construction industry, and to break our economy.

"And now because they've got nowhere else to go they're making personal attacks. I'm going to continue to be focused on solutions."

Mr O'Brien last night denied his remarks were part of an effort to undermine the confidence and supply deal.

He said his party had been "more than responsible" and that "we're committed to it and I'm committed to it".

He also denied that his comments were personal criticisms and said there had been "somewhat of an overreaction" to them in Fine Gael.

He said he would work constructively with Government to bring about "real improvement and real progress" in housing.

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