Department rejects idea of rent register to stop hikes by landlords

Public list of rents on properties suggested as way to help tenants contest big rent increases

The Department of Housing has poured cold water on the idea of a mandatory rent register suggested as a means of helping tenants stop landlords imposing steep rent increases, citing data protection concerns.

Housing charity Threshold has called for a rent register to help tenants challenge landlords who increase rents beyond the 4 per cent limit in so-called rent-pressure zones. It would involve publishing data held privately by the landlord regulatory body the Residential Tenancies Board.

A spokesman for the department dismissed the possibility of rents on individual properties being made public because it “would place significant personal information, of both landlords and tenants, in the public domain, and would undoubtedly raise data protection concerns”.

Several tenants have told The Irish Times that their landlords hiked rents beyond the limit or asked them to leave the accommodation only to discover properties advertised at much higher rents.


Landlords must provide details of the rents they charge tenants when they register their properties with the tenancies board so the information to create a public register is held privately.

Threshold chief executive John-Mark McCafferty said that a public register of rents would “arm” tenants and “go some way to creating a more transparent system”.

Less information

“If it was operated on a user-friendly basis, then it would certainly assist tenants to have a good sense of what had been charged before,” he said.

“The problem is this is a very asymmetrical system where the tenant has less information, knowledge and power than the landlords so they find themselves compromised in a landlords’ market on price, availability and tenure security.”

Spokesmen for the department and tenancies board pointed out that the board publishes average rents for local electoral areas that was based on the actual rents being paid for rented properties throughout the State. However, Threshold noted that this was no publicly available “in real time”.

The department has said that it is reviewing whether landlords are imposing rent increases beyond those permitted under the legislation or introducing extra charges on tenants. The review will also consider whether landlords are circumventing rent-increase limits with minimal maintenance work that exempts them from the 4 per cent limit.

The department will assess whether new approaches are required to ensure compliance with the legislation.

Pre-budget submission

The idea of a rent register was included in the charity's pre-budget submission published last week and in its contacts with the department, and will be sent to Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

Tenants can complain to the board about landlords who increase rents by greater than the 4 per cent limit in rent-pressure zones. The board offers dispute resolution, and independent adjudicators can award damages of up to €20,000 against a landlord and restore rents to original levels.

One tenant who contacted The Irish Times last week said that their landlord imposed a rent increase of almost 70 per cent, forcing them to leave their accommodation.

Record rents and a dwindling supply of available properties mean landlords can impose large increases on new tenants. Threshold says that a register would allow tenants to make complaints against landlords retrospectively where they find previous tenants have been charged significantly less in rent.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times