Thursday 23 November 2017

New plan would force landlords to benchmark rents

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Landlords would be forced to provide their tenants with details of the costs of three comparable properties in their locality under plans to control rent hikes.

The move is aimed at preventing landlords from increasing rents based solely on so-called "trends in the market", according to a report considered by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

The proposal has emerged during lengthy and testy Coalition negotiations aimed at introducing so-called 'rent certainty' into the market.

Mr Kelly yesterday said measures must be agreed in a bid to tackle the practice of landlords consistently hiking the rents charged to their tenants.

He said rent was the biggest single issue in terms of preventing homelessness and that he expected an overall plan to be agreed in the coming weeks.

But the Labour Party deputy leader refused to accept his key proposal - linking rent to the consumer price index - is off the table due to Fine Gael opposition. Such a measure, which has been mooted for several months, is aimed at bringing certainty to the rental market for a number of months.

But Fine Gael ministers, especially Finance Minister Michael Noonan, are deeply concerned the move will distort the market.

Speaking at the offices of Focus Ireland, Mr Kelly insisted that negotiations aimed at securing rent certainty were still on track. However, he declined to specifically mention the proposal to link rent to inflation.

"Something will have to be done in relation to rent and I'm quite confident it will happen," Mr Kelly said.

"There are a lot of discussions in relation to rent certainty… there are measures in relation to rent regulation in a total way that have to be dealt with and there are measures in relation to other issues as regards how landlords are behaving, that I believe from a regulatory point of view, we as a Government have to deal with."

Meanwhile, it is understood that Mr Kelly is pushing for new measures which will make it difficult for landlords to introduce rent hikes.

The plan, recommended in a consultants report provided to Mr Kelly earlier this year, would see an obligation being placed on landlords to provide tenants with supporting material to justify a rent hike.

Under the scenario, landlords would have to produce the rent costs charged by three owners of similar properties in their respective areas to justify the move.

Irish Independent

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