Threshold, the national housing charity, has today (06.03.15) called on Government to roll out a public education campaign immediately to ensure tenants are fully informed about their rights in relation to rent increases.
Commenting today, Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold, expressed concern that landlords may seek to frontload rent increases in expectation of a system of rent certainty being introduced.
“Minister Alan Kelly spoke last weekend about his desire to see a system of rent certainty introduced,” said Mr. Jordan. “This is to be welcomed: Threshold has been highlighting the need for rent certainty for the past 18 months. We believe it is essential to stem the growing levels of homelessness and ensure families can afford to remain in their homes.
“However, we are concerned that – in advance of any formal announcement by Government – landlords may now move to frontload rent increases. Tenants must be protected from such retaliatory hikes in rent.
“We believe a public education campaign is needed immediately to alert tenants to their rights in relation to rent increases. This should be rolled out by the Department of the Environment and the Private Residential Tenancies Board.
“If tenants are not made aware of their rights, there is a risk they may face even higher rent increases in unfair circumstances. Threshold will vigorously defend any tenant who faces an unfair rent increase, especially where a landlord is seeking to avoid compliance with the law.”
Rules in Relation to Rent Increases
Threshold set out the rules in relation to rent increases, under existing laws and regulations, as follows:
- Once a tenancy starts, rent cannot be increased in the next 12 months.
- Landlords may only seek to increase rent if it has been 12 months or more since the last increase, unless there has been a substantial change made to the home in question in the intervening period.
- Landlords must give tenants at least 28 days’ notice in writing, informing them of the amount of the new rent and the date from when they will have to start paying it. Tenants cannot be informed of a rent increase by email, text or verbal notification. They do not have to pay the new rent until they have been given the proper notification in writing.
- Rents cannot be increased above ‘market rent’, i.e. the going rate for comparable properties in the area in which the rental property is located.
- Rent increases are currently not limited to a percentage increase or rate of inflation.
- If tenants wish to dispute a rent increase, they have 28 days within which to refer a dispute to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). The increase in rent will not take effect until the dispute has been determined, but if tenants are unsuccessful they may be liable for any arrears in rent arising from the difference between the original rent and the increased rent.
- Threshold advises tenants to consult websites such as Daft.ie and MyHome.ie, as well as the rent index published by the PRTB / ESRI as a guide to what the market rent for a property may be. However, the organisation cautioned that the most recent figures available from the PRTB / ESRI are for the period July to September 2014 and may not reflect current market rents.
“A system of rent certainty is long overdue in Ireland, and badly needed,” said Senator Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold. “Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed steeply rising rents in major urban centres, and this has contributed directly to growing levels of homelessness.
“Threshold has consistently called on Government to introduce a system of rent certainty as a matter of urgency. This must be prioritised. However, in the meantime, we must also ensure landlords do not hike up rents in anticipation of such a system. As a starting point, we urge tenants to become fully informed about their rights and entitlements and to contact Threshold if they feel they are being subjected to an unfair rent increase.”