The accidental landlords - most own just one property
The rental watchdog is to launch a major public awareness campaign to highlight the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants as the numbers living in rented accommodation soars.
The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) says the campaign comes after a survey found that one in three tenants was not aware they could refuse to pay demands for rent increases in excess of market norms, while landlords do not know how to evict disruptive tenants legally.
The campaign comes as the Irish Independent continues an in-depth look at the rental market, and the rise of the "accidental" landlord.
Some 700,000 people currently rent their homes, with one in five households now in the sector.
But some two-thirds of all landlords own just one property, while 84pc own two or fewer. The PRTB says these accidental landlords were caught in the property bubble, and the house or apartment is no longer suitable for their needs.
This is because it may be too small for a growing family and they have had to move on; is in negative equity and cannot be sold; or they moved in with a partner; or the property was inherited.
"We believe as many as 36pc (of landlords) hadn't intended to be landlords," PRTB director Anne Marie Caulfield said.
"The advertising campaign is to try and get people more aware, both landlords and tenants, of their rights and responsibilities.
"Knowingly or otherwise, some people don't know the legislation. We see again and again about people being given a one-year lease. This is despite, after six months, they have acquired the right to stay for four years."
Research commissioned by the PRTB shows that one in three tenants is not aware of their rights and the PRTB's role. While an information leaflet is issued to all landlords and tenants registered with the agency, this is not considered effective.
"The PRTB is anxious to promote a number of rights of both landlords and tenants," it said. "For example, that after an initial six months renting, tenants are entitled to continue renting that property for up to four years, even if the lease is only for 12 months.
"In a market with rising rents, it is also important that both landlords and tenants know it is not permissible to charge more than the market rent, and rents can only be increased once in a 12-month period."
The campaign will also focus on the rights of landlords to terminate tenancies in cases where rents are not being paid.
The PRTB said that some 170,000 landlords were currently in the market, but were diverse in terms of age, background and nationality. While some control hundreds of properties, 91pc have three or less.
"In order to reach all of those groups, PRTB will be launching a diverse advertising campaign, including online coverage, print media, outdoor advertising and radio advertising," it added.
"The first phase of the campaign starts in June, and the second phase in August will coincide with the CAO results, to assist young students leaving home for the first time."
The Rent Report shows while rents have risen in most areas of the country in the past year, between 2010 and 2015 they only rose in the cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway.
This means it is cheaper to rent a home in almost all parts of Ireland today than it was five years ago.
National housing charity Threshold said the campaign was timely as many people were now locked out of the property market due to a lack of new homes coming onto the market, and new Central Bank lending rules which oblige them to save a 10pc deposit before securing a mortgage.
"It's welcome that this campaign is now under way," chief executive Bob Jordan said. "The sector has doubled in size in a decade, and people will be in it for the foreseeable future."