Property Clinic: Is a rent increase notification by text message valid?

Your property queries answered

Landlords must issue written notification of  intention to increase    a rental payment

Landlords must issue written notification of intention to increase a rental payment

 

Q. In November, my landlord texted me 90 days’ notice that he would be increasing my rent by 15 per cent. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised as I live in Dublin 4 and rents around me are at an all-time high.

However, when the rent cap legislation came into effect, and since I live in a “rent pressure zone”, I contacted my landlord to re-adjust it to 4 per cent, but he told me that because he had notified me before it came in, I was obliged to pay the 15 per cent increase.

I have since been informed that a notice by text message is not valid, so I informed him of this and that he would have to re-issue notice at the 4 per cent cap, but he refuses to and won’t accept that the notice is invalid. What do I do?

A. You are quite correct, your landlord must give written notice of his/her intentions to increase the rent and this cannot be in the form of an email or text, so therefore the notice is invalid.

The Residential Tenancies Act prohibits your landlord from increasing the rent to a level that is in excess of market rent. Your landlord should, as I have mentioned above, notified you in writing and given you 90 days’ notice of his intention to increase the rent.

A valid notice served by your landlord must include:

1. The amount of new rent and the date from which it is to have effect.

2. It must include a statement that a dispute must be referred to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) on the expiry of 28 days from the receipt by the tenant of that notice, or the date the new rent takes effect.

3. It must include a statement by the landlord that it is their opinion that the new rent is not greater than market rent having regard to the other terms of the tenancy, letting values of properties of a similar size, type and character and situated in a comparable area.

4. It must specify the rent amount for three comparable properties of a similar size, type and character and situated in a comparable area.

5. It must include the date on which the notice is signed.

6. It must be signed by the landlord or his/her agent.

7. A landlord is also required to notify the RTB of the revised rent so that the registrations details can be updated.

8. If the property is located within a Rent Pressure Zone, the formula which is on the RTB website must be used when calculating the rent.

The Residential Tenancies Board have a dispute resolution service. Before you enter this, you may wish to discuss the situation with your landlord; failing that you should contact the Residential Tenancies Board.

John O’Sullivan, Chartered Residential Agency Surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie