– Housing charity urges roll-out of scheme throughout the State
Tuesday July 2: Threshold has welcomed the designation of 19 new Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), saying the extension of the scheme is a belated recognition that rapid rent increases are now a feature of life in the private rented sector across the State.
The designation of 19 new RPZs covering 11 counties means rents can now increase in these areas by no more than 4 per cent per annum. “The widespread nature of the problem of rising rents has been obvious for some time and this designation of new rent pressure zones will help give tenants and prospective tenants in these areas some relief,” said the CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty.
“Over one in five homes in Ireland is privately rented, yet this sector is also the most expensive and least secure form of housing in Ireland. Threshold would like to see rent certainty measures providing long term security extended to all renters.”
The areas designated today are Ardee, Arklow, Athenry-Oranmore, Athlone (Westmeath side), Dundalk-Carlingford and Dundalk-South, Fermoy, Gorey, Gort-Kinvara, Graiguecullen-Portarlington, Kells, Kilkenny, Limerick City North and West, Midleton, Portlaoise, Trim, Waterford City East and Waterford City South.
Mr McCafferty continued: “The rental crisis is a national issue, and even in more rural areas, where you would imagine there is less demand, it is having a huge impact. The areas designated today badly needed some control over rent increases.
“For example, in Carlingford, people are paying an average 40% (€279 a month) more in rent today that when RPZs were first introduced in Cork and Dublin in December 2016. There are just 29 three-bed properties advertised as being available to rent in Co Louth on Daft.ie today.
“Meanwhile rents in Limerick City North increased by 6% between Q4 18 and Q1 19. People renting in Limerick City North are paying an average of €168 more a month in rent since Q1 2018. That is over an additional €2,000 a year which is broadly equivalent to a month’s wages to someone on an average income. There are 35 three-beds to rent in all of Limerick county.”
“And in Fermoy, average monthly rents increased by €79 (€948 a year) from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019.
There is only one 3 bed to rent in Fermoy and 76 in all of Cork on daft today.”
He said there were areas not yet covered by RPZs where restrictions on rent increases are badly needed. “For example in Killarney, people renting there saw monthly rents increase by an average of €102 (total of €1224 a year) from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019. There are 32 three-beds to rent in Kerry on daft.ie today, and there are still 17 Air BnBs of entire homes in Killarney this week.
Today’s extension of the rent pressure zones will be a relief to tenants, because of the new enforcement and sanctioning powers available to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). These should strengthen the effectiveness of the Rent Pressure Zones in the event that Landlords attempt to increase rents above 4% or try to circumvent the rules in order to secure a larger rent increase.
“From 2017 onwards, Threshold witnessed examples of certain landlords in RPZ areas making minimum changes to the dwelling and claiming they were substantial in nature in an attempt to raise rents above 4%, or through bogus sale of a property and its re-letting with a rent increase higher than 4%.The new investigations and sanctions unit in the RTB can now investigate such potential breaches, thereby bolstering the Rent Pressure Zones.”
He said that anyone who has received a recent rent increase in an area that has just recently become an RPZ should call Threshold for advice as the increase may now be invalid.
Threshold operates the successful Tenancy Protection Service which helps prevent homelessness and keep individuals and families in their homes. As part of ‘Rebuilding Ireland: An action plan on housing and homelessness’, Threshold has a national helpline across the country with housing advice and advocacy, particularly for those at risk of homelessness.