New plan could see rents paid by tenants listed online

Cabinet will consider a proposal to create a rental register to help protect tenants

Under a new plan, notice periods for tenants will increase. File photograph: iStock

Under a new plan, notice periods for tenants will increase. File photograph: iStock

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The level of rent paid by tenants in specific areas across the State could be published online as part of a new rental register, according to a proposal to be considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

The plan for so-called “rent transparency” from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy would see the average rent paid in certain areas detailed by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The RTB holds records of the level of rent paid by all tenants, and sources said the information published would be based on this data.

Any new register will not, however, lay out the exact level of rent paid for individual properties, but will instead give a guide to the average rent levels in certain areas.

The move towards rent transparency is one of a number of measures in the general scheme of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill, which is aimed at strengthening tenants’ rights.

It is understood that the level of detail that will published online will be finalised following consultation with the Attorney General and the Data Protection Commissioner.

A Government source said: “Transparency is necessary to protect people from being ripped off, but we have to balance that with privacy rights, and the Data Protection Commissioner will best advise on that.”

Criminal offence

Another move will make it a criminal offence for landlords to increase rents in so-called “rent pressure zones” above the four per cent allowed annually. The RTB will be given the power to prosecute landlords who increase rents above the four per cent threshold.

A number of the measures being outlined by Mr Murphy were tabled by the Social Democrats in a Private Members’ Bill in the Dáil earlier this year.

Government figures say the Rebuilding Ireland plan – the Fine Gael-led minority coalition’s flagship policy to tackle the housing crisis – commits to greater protections for tenants, and that the latest moves are aimed at turning the RTB into an “enforcer”.

It is understood that no reforms that might be seen as beneficial to landlords are planned in the latest Bill.

It will also allow the RTB to proactively begin its own cases against landlords, rather than waiting for tenants to make a complaint.

Notice periods for tenants will also increase. However, this will vary depending on the length of time a tenant has occupied the property.

For those with tenancies of six months or less, the notice period will remain at 28 days. For tenancies between six months and a year, the notice period will increase from 35 days to 90 days. It will rise to 120 days for all tenancies between one and five years. At present, the notice period spans from 35 days for a tenancy between one and two years and 112 days for those between four and five years. The notice periods for those with tenancies above five years will not be changed.

Further moves to enhance the rent pressure zone legislation will be brought forward later in the year, as well as on the rights of tenants during receiverships.

It is envisaged that even more changes will be made over the coming years to expand the role of the RTB into a proactive law enforcement and regulation agency for the rental sector.

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