Landlords will face prosecution for not meeting standards, Minister says

Local authorities will be funded to inspect 25 per cent of rental properties a year

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the vast majority of small independent landlords were good landlords. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the vast majority of small independent landlords were good landlords. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

 

Jack Power

Landlords will have to self-certify that their rental properties meet appropriate standards and face legal action if they provide “untrue” assurances, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has told the Dáil.

Mr Murphy was speaking in response to a Sinn Féin Private Members’ motion tabled by Eoin Ó’Broin TD on Tuesday night calling for an NCT-type certification system for rental properties to be brought in, which the Government did not oppose.

Mr Murphy said at the moment there was “little disincentive for unscrupulous landlords” who housed tenants in poor quality and overcrowded accommodation and simply discontinued the use of the rental property if they were discovered.

Currently a landlord can only be fined for breaches in accommodation standards if they fail to adhere to an improvement and prohibition notice from their local authority.

Mr Murphy said the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) would be reformed, with a new self-certification system for rental standards introduced for landlords.

Landlords will be required to register their tenancies on an annual basis, and will be required “to certify that the property in question is compliant with regulations, in relation to standards for rental accommodation, overcrowding, and fire safety” Mr Murphy said.

“Failure to provide this certification, failure to register the tenancy, or very importantly the provision of an untrue certification will all constitute offences prosecutable by the RTB,” he said.

Mr Murphy said funding would be provided to resource local authorities to inspect 25 per cent of rental properties a year. Currently the level of inspections is lower and generally reactive to complaints.

“The vast majority of our small independent landlords are good landlords…but in every walk of life there are those that will break the law, and give a bad name to a good enterprise” Mr Murphy said.

The Sinn Féin motion was tabled following an RTÉ documentary ‘Nightmare to Let’ that exposed several examples of substandard and overcrowded rental accommodation.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday night, Sinn Fein housing spokesman Eoin Ó’Broin said the programme “highlighted levels of overcrowding that many people assumed had vanished with the demolition of the tenements in the 1940s and 50s”.