Residential Tenancies Bill Requires Significant Amendments - Dail Debate Tonight

Press Releases

Anti-avoidance provision should be included to ensure that the acquired rights of tenants are protected-

The national housing organisation Threshold, calls on the Government to make important amendments to the Residential Tenancies Bill 2003, announced by Housing Minister Noel Ahern and Dept of Environment and Local Government Minister Martin Cullen on June 4th, which will be debated before the Dail tonight. Threshold welcomes the Residential Tenancies Bill 2003 but tightening is essential if the improved rights of tenants as set out in the Bill are to be secured. Threshold is concerned that the current wording weakens the power and efficacy of the Bill and urges the government to incorporate key amendments to create balanced, and effective regulation of the private rented sector. The private rented sector has been estimated to accommodate 150,000 households, many of whom are subsisting on low incomes. Threshold’s information and advice work highlights that people trapped at the bottom end of the sector have few if any options should a landlord chose to raise the rent, give notice to vacate or fail to make basic repairs. While many landlords already behave reasonably, it is essential that all be made to do so if vulnerable tenants are to get a fair deal. The Bill should be amended to strengthen the provisions prohibiting landlords retaliating against tenants who try to assert their rights. For example it currently provides no protection against retaliatory notice to quit in the first 6 months of a tenancy. The Bill should also incorporate a basic obligation on landlords that the dwelling meet the minimum legal standards such as a supply of hot and cold water. The right of a landlord to prohibit the right of a tenant to assign or sublet should be exercised ‘reasonably’. A general anti-avoidance provision should be included in the Bill to ensure that the acquired rights of tenants are protected. An example of this would be a provision that any scheme or arrangement found to be in place purposefully with the intention of defeating a tenant’s rights is void, and penalties should be imposed accordingly. Aideen Hayden Chair of Threshold said, “Although the Residential Tenancies Bill promises a more secure future for many tenants, we have serious concerns over loopholes that could undermine the successful and equitable operation of the legislation. The Bill must create effective incentives for landlords to comply. The Bill provides limited rights to tenants and it is only fair that all landlords are made to respect them.”

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