Landlords ignoring rental caps, says housing charity

Residential Landlords Association says Daft exaggerating rental increases

Campaigners and renters have said  rules are not being properly enforced. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Campaigners and renters have said rules are not being properly enforced. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

Rent transparency is urgently needed to ensure that rental caps in pressure zones are not flouted by landlords, the director of the national housing charity Threshold has said.

John Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Threshold, has warned that landlords are continuing to bypass the law on rental increases by claiming their property is needed for family or is being substantially refurbished.

The Government introduced a 4 per cent cap in December 2016 on rental increases in designated rent pressure zones in a bid to protect tenants from soaring rents. However, campaigners and renters have said they’re not being properly enforced.

Mr McCafferty told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that unless a person single handedly takes a case to investigate a landlord’s refusal to cap rent increases through the Rental Tenancies Board there is no other way to ascertain the truth. This was just one of the areas in which the rent cap was being flouted, he added.

Mr McCafferty was responding to comments from Fintan McNamara of the Residential Landlords Association of Ireland who claimed that rents were not rising at the rate claimed in a Daft.ie report published today.

The Daft report released on Friday found the average rent in the Republic has hit €1,304, more than €560 higher than the trough in 2011 and more than 26 per cent higher than the high point during the Celtic Tiger.

Rents for properties advertised on Daft.ie grew by an average of 12.4 per cent in the year to June, outpacing growth in residential property prices as the stock on the market remains the lowest on record.

Quarterly rental report

According to the quarterly rental report from the property website, prices across the State are €274 per month higher than the 2008 peak. In Dublin rents are now 34 per cent, or almost €500 a month, higher than the previous high point a decade ago.

Mr McNamara said the rent advertised can be very different from the rent finally agreed. “There is a huge difference between what is asked for and what is frequently agreed,” he said. “Rents are not rising as fast as they were. They can’t be, there’s no scope for further increases.”

Mr McCafferty asked Mr McNamara for evidence of this trend and pointed out that because of supply issues rents finally agreed could be even higher than what was advertised.

Low income and middle income families are the ones most affected by increases, he said. Supply is part of the solution as lack of supply is part of the problem, he said.

Legislative changes, HAP limits and rent transparency are all required, added Mr McCafferty.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam, Aideen Hayden, chairwomanof the Threshold board of directors, reiterated that rent pressure zone legislation was being ignored and certainly was not being enforced.

“What’s significant about this particular report is the extent of the increases in places like Limerick, 20 per cent for example,” she said. “Limerick isn’t part of the current rent pressure zone legislation and that’s something that needs to be addressed by the Minister, but clearly that is staggering.”

Ms Hayden also said that the increase in rents in Dublin of over 13 per cent showed that the rent pressure zone legislation was being ignored.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien said immediate changed were to enhance the rent pressure zone system.

“Those of us so fortunate to have stable or permanent housing can only imagine how disheartening the price of rent must be for graduates coming out of university or those that once emigrated, who are wishing to come home to Ireland,” he said.

“It also goes without saying that those forking out these costs in rent must be incredibly stressed trying to pay domestic bills or other living costs and possibly childcare on top of it. It’s hindering so many from being able to save when everything they earn in a month is going straight back out.”

Labour housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said a cap on the rate of rent increases and changes in eviction rules were needed.

“The most important action needed is to speed up the State’s supply of social and affordable homes and to use the thousands of vacant houses and apartments around the country,” she said.

“At the same time, they cannot ignore the plight of those in the private rented sector who are finding it impossible to get or keep a home that they can afford. Action on AirBnB type short term lets would also make a real difference.”

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien said immediate changes were to enhance the rent pressure zone system.

“Those of us so fortunate to have stable or permanent housing can only imagine how disheartening the price of rent must be for graduates coming out of university or those that once emigrated, who are wishing to come home to Ireland,” he said.

“It also goes without saying that those forking out these costs in rent must be incredibly stressed trying to pay domestic bills or other living costs and possibly childcare on top of it. It’s hindering so many from being able to save when everything they earn in a month is going straight back out.”