8 questions about the Government's new housing package

Doubling of rent review term biggest benefit for tenants

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan pictured with Eoin Whelan at his apartment in Phibsboro where they met with a couple who have benefitted from tenancy sustainment protocol. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan pictured with Eoin Whelan at his apartment in Phibsboro where they met with a couple who have benefitted from tenancy sustainment protocol. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

What is the biggest change in the housing package announced by the Government? The most significant change is the decision to increase the rent review period from 12 months to 24 months for a four-year period. This means that anyone who has had an increase in 2015 will not face another one until 2017.

Can’t a landlord just increase the rent before this package is implemented? Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly says this legislation will be in place by the end of the month and a landlord must give 28 days before increasing rent. So it is unlikely.

At present a landlord can review the rent only once every 12 months. So anyone who has reviewed the rent on the property in the past 12 months cannot review the rent again.

The Department of the Environment has insisted any landlord who has not increased the rent in the past 12 months is precluded from increasing the rent to more than the market rate.

Are there any other measures that will help renters? Yes. The notification period for rent hikes will increase from 28 days to 90 days in the new package. Landlords will also be required to notify their tenants on how to dispute increases they deem excessive.

Landlords will also have to provide details of three properties in the area with higher rents before increasing their own.

Can’t a landlord just evict its current tenants and bring in new ones at a higher rent? No. Once a tenant has been in a property for six months, they have a right to remain there for up to four years.

Landlords will also be required to explain in writing why a property is no longer suitable to its current holders. If they claim they are selling the property or are handing it over to family, landlords will have to sign a statutory declaration confirming that intention.

If they do not, they face potential fines of up to €3,000.

Will this do anything to help the homelessness crisis? Yes and no. The rent proposals will reduce the numbers of people who are confronted with unaffordable rent increases.

However, it does little to tackle the affordability issue which is one of the reasons many face homelessness.

The Government has not increased rent supplement payments despite significant calls for it to do so.

Is it all bad news for landlords? Not necessarily. A landlord who takes tenants off the social-housing list will receive 100 per cent mortgage interest relief.

If a landlord secures an order from the PRTB for removing an antisocial tenant, they can now go to the District Court instead of the Circuit Court.

However, landlords are not happy with the proposals, with the Residential Landlords Association describing the package as a bureaucratic nightmare.

Are there any measures to increase housing supply? Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will move to introduce a once-off initiative to kick-start supply of new housing constructions at more affordable prices.

Rebates will apply to developments where a development has more than 50 units which will be priced under €300,000 in Dublin and €250,000 in Cork.

There will also be legislative changes made to the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) provisions of the Planning and Development Acts to provide for a fast-tracking of SDZ planning schemes.

Will this be the end of the housing crisis? The Government was eager to stress this was the first of a number of measures. Housing will be a key election issue and each party will be under pressure to outline their response to the crisis.

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