Minister Murphy must get new rent legislation right – Eoin Ó Broin TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the Minister for Housing’s set of proposals that his department believe will tackle issues for tenants in the private rented sector. The plans are said to include a rent register and an increase to the minimum notice period required before a tenant must leave a property.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Minister Murphy must get this new legislation right. He has a chance to right the inadequacies of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016and to strengthen the rights of tenants.
“Sinn Féin has said that if the Minister shows he is serious about tackling the housing crisis we will seriously look at any progressive measures he brings forward. Some of the proposals mentioned today are a step in the right direction, but we will reserve judgement until we see the detail of the legislation.
“We hear lots of anecdotal evidence that some landlords within rent pressure zones are utilizing every loophole available to them and issuing bogus notices to quit to get around the 4% cap.
“We have said for a long time that we need tougher sanctions for landlords issuing illegal notices to quit and for breaches of the rent pressure zone legislation.
“We welcome reports that the legislation will reportedly make it a criminal offence for landlords to increase rents in rent pressure zones above the 4% cap. This must apply to all landlords, letting agents, online rental platforms and student accommodation.
“We need to make sure any new sanctions are enforced. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) must be given the powers and resources to enforce all rental standards. We need to see statutory inspection targets introduced for all local authorities and the RTB must act on these inspections.
“The publication of a rent register will assist potential tenants to assess what average level of rent was for the area and more importantly they will be able to see the previous rent paid for the property. Although in truth this register is of little use to tenants outside rent pressure zone areas.
“We support the plans to increase to the minimum notice period required before a tenant must leave a property.
"However, the legislation should go further. The government needs to revisit the Focus Ireland amendment which would prevent buy-to let landlords who benefited from tax breaks from seeking vacant possession when they are looking to sell.
“We also need to restrict the criteria for issuing notices to quit. Landlords can issue notices to quit when a family member needs the property. We believe this clause should be removed from the Residential Tenancies Act.
“This is set to be the first substantive piece of legislation Minister Murphy is bringing forward since his appointment as Minister for Housing almost a year ago. We look forward to scrutinizing any legislation brought forward and we will seek to amend any area where we believe the government can do better by tenants.”