'My landlord is increasing our rent despite rent freeze - do we have to pay up?'
Personal Finance expert Sinead Ryan answers your property questions
Question: My landlord has just sent myself and my flatmate a letter informing us that the rent is being increased from March. We think this is very unfair and understood it wasn't allowed due to the rent freeze. He says otherwise and even though we haven't had an increase in two years, I thought it couldn't be done now as our lease date was last November and assumed the rolling over meant no increase. We are confused. Do we have to pay up?
Answer: This has confused not just you, but many readers. The two-year rent review introduced by the previous Housing Minister Alan Kelly in 2015, and the so-called "rent predictability" measures on increases by successor Simon Coveney (maximum of 4pc p.a. for three years), is a great idea for tenants, but it has caused many landlords (not unreasonably), to seek to increase rents now to cover the two-year period where they may not get an increase. In any event, it has not yet been enacted into law.
I asked the Residential Tenancies Board about this - the rule is that if your rent has not been increased any time in the last two years, which you would indicate is the position in your case, and the increase suggested is within the range for the area (the landlord must be able to back this up with at least three similar properties and you can check yourself using local rental databases), then he is entitled to seek an increase now.
Yes, it really should have been done in November, if that's when your natural year was up. So thus far, you've effectively benefited from an extra five months at the lower rate. He must give 90 days' notice for the increase. If you believe the increase is out of kilter, you can challenge this through the RBT.
You are, of course, free to give him notice should you wish to leave and you can find something you like for less.