High cost of rents leading to increase in arrears, says RTB

Board warns that affordability problems in market are putting tenants under pressure

The RTB said prsopective tenants can feel pressure to accept high rent if they ar among a queue of people viewing a property.

The RTB said prsopective tenants can feel pressure to accept high rent if they ar among a queue of people viewing a property.

 

The sharp increase in the number of cases taken by tenants against landlords is a reflection of the pressure people living in rented accommodation are under, the director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has said.

Rosalind Carroll said the number of cases of tenants and landlords being in dispute over rent increases had increased by 160 per cent since last year when the Government put a 4 per cent cap on rent rises in a series of so called ‘pressure zones’ across the State.

The number of new applications to resolve all types of disputes has continued to rise, surging by 30 per cent in the first half of the year on the same period last year.

The most common disputes are over rent arrears, notices of termination and deposits, the RTB’s annual report showed.

Rents have reached new highs due to a record shortage of rental accommodation, heaping increased pressure on the tenancies board to step up its policing of the sector.

Ms Carroll said the number of calls to the RTB had risen to about 1,000 per day this year, with some of these contacts coming from landlords.

“We’ve never had a sector this large since the 80s. Over one in five (people) are renting,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Affordability issues

Ms Carroll said the issue of rent arrears was increasing and this was a “prime example of affordability issues in the market”. Rising rents were putting a lot of pressure on people to take accommodation which they later realise they cannot afford.

She cited an example of the high pressure people looking to rent feel if they are among a queue of prospective tenants viewing a property, which could lead them to sign up for a rent that was too high.

Figures show that there are 175,000 landlords currently and that has remained “fairly steady” she said, adding that there was a slight increase last year but not so far this year.

The RTB has said that in 44 recent cases where tenants faced rent hikes greater than the market rate, 34 of the rent review notices, some 77 per cent, were invalidly issued by the landlords under legislation on the zones.

Ms Carroll said that regardless of what a tenant and landlord agree on, “you cannot contract out of the law. Just because a tenant has signed something it doesn’t mean they’re obliged to keep it”.

The RTB hoped to raise awareness about rental laws and to educate people. Ms Carroll said she wanted to highlight that tenants should contact the RTB if they think the rent they are being charged “isn’t right”.

She added that there is a calculator on the RTB website that would help tenants come to an accurate figure on the rent they should be paying.