Wednesday 7 December 2016

Landlords to be limited to just one rent increase in any two-year period as Alan Kelly folds

Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Published 06/11/2015 | 02:30

Environment Minister Alan Kelly
Environment Minister Alan Kelly

Landlords will be blocked from increasing rents more frequently than once every two years under the long-awaited housing plan.

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A compromise deal has been thrashed out to end the bitter Coalition dispute centred around Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Mr Kelly has settled for the watered-down version of 'rent certainty', having initially fought to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The much-delayed plan will bring in new regulations stating rents can only be hiked every two years, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The rules mean any tenant who saw their rent increased in 2015 will enjoy a rent freeze next year - the year of the general election.

The package, which will be signed off by Cabinet next week, also contains incentives for landlords who take families off the social housing list.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) is to become the "market watchdog" with new powers aimed at cooling the rental market.

Other measures include:

n increasing the notice periods for evicting tenants

n requiring landlords justify rent hikes

n tougher laws aimed at tackling rogue tenants

After weeks of Coalition infighting, Mr Kelly and Mr Noonan have finally struck a compromise to provide tenants with greater security.

At present, landlords are entitled to increase rent every 12 months without any justification. Under the new proposal, this timeframe will be doubled.

"This is about giving tenants breathing space and ensuring they are no longer hit with year-on-year rent hikes," said a source.

It's understood the measure will be introduced as an amendment to housing legislation currently before the Seanad. It will be reviewed in the future when it is hoped there will be more housing supply.

But Mr Kelly was forced to abandon his desperate attempts to link rent to inflation.

The Department of Finance staunchly resisted the proposal for fear it would cause undue interference in the market.

The compromise deal was struck yesterday following negotiations involving Mr Kelly, Mr Noonan and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey. Coalition sources stressed that the plan has a "carrot and stick" approach and that incentives will be provided for landlords who house low-income families for a minimum of five years. This is to address some landlords refusing those on State benefits.

The incentives will include 100pc interest relief on borrowings for landlords who let for a minimum of five years to welfare recipients. At present, relief of 75pc is offered.

The decision to beef up the PRTB was argued for last month by Tánaiste Joan Burton.

The watchdog will be given an enhanced role to analyse market rents to force landlords to justify rent hikes.

Tougher rules on rogue tenants follow claims that properties have been left vandalised.

The deal is "about 80pc finalised" according to a source, with final details set to be discussed over the weekend.

Irish Independent

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