My landlord has said that he wishes to increase my rent for the first time in the few years I’ve been living in my apartment. My apartment doesn’t have a balcony and doesn’t have a tumble dryer. As I understand it, either a clothesline or tumble dryer is a requirement for rental accommodation. Can I use this (and threat of report to the local authority) as a bargaining chip to hopefully avoid a rent increase?
Overall I would advise you to adopt a more measured approach, writes Marcus O’Connor.
Under current legislation your landlord is allowed to increase rent. The fact that they have not done so for several years is a real plus and, it must be said, quite decent of them.
Firstly, let’s look at some of the detail. To be valid, a landlord must give tenants at least 90 days’ notice in writing of a change in rent (an email or text is not considered appropriate). This is to allow you to examine your own household budget and prepare well in advance for the increase. You don’t provide any details, but I would suggest that the increase in rent will probably be nominal due to the rent pressure zones (RPZ) and the manner in which the new rent is calculated.
As per the Residential Tenancies Board website, an RPZ “is a designated area where rents cannot be increased by more than general inflation, as recorded by the Harmonised Index of the Consumer Price (HICP), or by more than 2 per cent per year pro rata, where HICP inflation is higher. This applies to new and existing tenancies (unless an exemption is being applied).
Successful landlord/tenant relationships are established on a basis of mutual trust. Having been involved in property management for 30 years, I would never advise either a landlord or a tenant to consider resorting to threats. On top of that, you clearly have a decent landlord as you point out they have not increased your rent for a few years.
Look at it from the landlord’s perspective. Over the last few years new rents have increased quite dramatically. You are now considering threatening your landlord because they have failed to provide you with a drying facility. Have you raised this issue with the landlord previously during your tenancy? If not, it may well be a genuine oversight and the landlord may be quite happy to provide you with this facility when it is pointed out to them.
So, on a professional level I do not see this approach as being very constructive and indeed I believe it could undermine the relationship you currently have with your landlord.
Every situation is different, but it could well be that your landlord is elderly or has become a landlord more by accident than by design. Right now, keeping abreast of the layers of legislation and standards required for residential rental dwellings in Ireland is quite challenging. My other concern would be that if you decide to embark on this course of action – of threatening the landlord and reporting them for what could be a genuine oversight – it could lead to some unintended and unwelcome consequences.
For example, if the landlord is already frustrated and fed up of dealing with some of the overly complex regulations involved in renting a property in Ireland today, your action might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and lead to them selling the apartment.
That means they could end your tenancy for the purpose of sale, which they are legally entitled to do and which currently thousands of private landlords are doing all over the country. Yes, you will have someone inspect the property and report back to the landlord on what jobs need to be done (if any over and above providing a drier), but the end result is you will have to vacate the property at the end of the correct number of days’ notice and probably find yourself having to move to a new property at a higher rent in a less convenient location. As I’m sure you are aware, finding suitable and affordable rental properties in the current market is a real challenge.
Of course, landlords must provide properties that meet the required standard but when issues arise my advice is to take a much more positive approach and to constructively engage with them on any shortcomings that exist. I am confident they will be more than happy to provide you with a tumble dryer when you bring it to their attention. That means both parties will get what they want, avoiding unnecessary disputes arising and promoting a healthy landlord/tenant relationship.
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