Sunday 27 May 2018

Rogue landlords now face €15k fines and prison terms under planned crackdown

  • Housing Minister receives Cabinet approval to draw up the new Residential Tenancies Bill
  • Planned law would make it a criminal offence to breach the 4pc rent increase limit in pressure zones
  • Murphy hopes bill can be passed before the summer recess
New moves on landlords: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Doug O'Connor
New moves on landlords: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Rogue landlords are set to face fines of €15,000 and potential jail terms under a planned Government crackdown.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has received Cabinet approval to draw up the new Residential Tenancies Bill.

The planned law would make it a criminal offence to breach the 4pc rent increase limit in areas that are designated as pressure zones. 

The figure being considered for fines imposed on landlords found guilty of the offence will be “upwards of €15,000”.

Meanwhile, he said that the possibility of jail terms is being explored in future legislation relating to serious offences by rogue landlords.

The heads of the new bill, which will include the fines, are to be drawn up imminently, and Mr Murphy hopes that it can be passed before the summer recess.

Other measures included are giving the Residential Tenancies Board the power to pursue anonymous complaints, and the creation of a register for greater transparency about rent levels.

There will be longer notice periods to give tenants more warning if the landlord wants them to move out.

Mr Murphy said that while most landlords are “excellent” the planned legislation is “about clamping down on that small number of people who are acting outside of the law and are treating tenants unfairly”.

He said that criminal sanctions including prison terms are being considered for future legislation, adding: “I think the threat of jail is a suitable sanction to hold over rogue landlords.”

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy hit out at remarks by Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien who claimed that he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are failing to solve the housing crisis due to what he described as their “elitist” and “cosseted” backgrounds.  

Mr Murphy said this was a “useless” contribution to the housing debate, and claimed that Fianna Fáil was “trying to undermine the confidence and supply agreement” with Fine Gael.

He said that the Government had the responsibility to fix the housing crisis, and claimed that Fianna Fáil’s only experience in housing “was to break our housing sector, break our construction industry, and to break our economy”.

“Because they’ve got nowhere else to go they’re making personal attacks,” he added. “I’m going to continue to be focused on solutions.”

He called for the support of Fianna Fáil, and the extension of the confidence and supply agreement.

Mr Murphy claimed some Fianna Fáil spokespeople are attempting to undermine the agreement, adding this is “very dangerous”.

Mr O’Brien denied his remarks were part of an effort to undermine the confidence and supply agreement. He said his party had been “more than responsible” and denied making personal criticisms – claiming there has been “somewhat of an overreaction” in Fine Gael.

He said he would work constructively with the Government to bring about “real improvement and real progress” in housing.

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