The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy (the Minister) obtained consent from the Cabinet to publish a general scheme of a new Residential Tenancies Bill (the Bill) on 17 April 2018.
The Bill is a response from the government to increased pressure to tackle the homelessness crisis in Ireland by providing greater security to tenants and tackling high rents. The Bill will be unwelcome news for landlords who have already been curtailed by legislative provisions introduced over the last number of years.
Key measures to be included in the new Bill
The following are some of the key measures, which will be proposed in the new Bill:
- Rent Pressures Zones Rent pressure zones were introduced in 2016 and include Dublin, Cork city, Galway City and other designated areas. In these areas, landlords may only increase rent by 4% per annum. It is proposed that the Bill will provide for a new criminal offence for landlords who fail to adhere to these restrictions. The Residential Tenancies Board (the RTB) will have the power to impose sanctions, including fines. The Minister has indicated that fines may be in the region of €15,000. He has also indicated that the government are exploring options for imposing prison sentences on non-compliant landlords.
Power of the RTB The Bill will increase the powers of the RTB, including a power to investigate private rented dwellings and landlords where they consider it necessary. At present, the RTB can only investigate matters where the tenant submits a complaint. It is proposed to amend this to give the RTB independent investigatory powers and the power to pursue anonymous complaints.
Public register of rents It is proposed to create a public register of rents to publish average rents in certain areas. The Minister is seeking advice from the Data Protection Commissioner and the Attorney General to ensure privacy rights are not compromised.
- Increase in notice periods The Bill will increase notice periods to be given by landlords to tenants when their tenancy is being terminated. In some cases, the notice period will triple.
Future of the Bill
The Minister hopes that the Bill will pass quickly through the Oireachtas and that it will become law before the summer recess. The Minister has confirmed that new laws preventing tenants from being evicted where the premises is being sold will not be included in the Bill, but this will considered in negotiations for the October budget.
For landlords, this Bill adds to the complicated web of restrictions introduced over the last number of years.