A HOUSING AND tenant advocacy charity has said that landlords are exploiting a gap in legislation in order to raise rents beyond the legally allowed limits.
Threshold – which advocates for tenants in the private rental sector – said that it has seen an increase in the number of evictions as a result of landlords undertaking refurbishments on their properties.
At the launch of its pre-Budget submission today, the charity gave the results of a flash survey of people contacting its service over a period of two weeks during last month.
Over 100 clients contacted the charity in this period looking for assistance to do with tenancy terminations. Of these, 85% had to do with landlords attempting to evict tenants.
Over 40% of attempted evictions were because the landlord was selling the property, while just under 20% had to do with a landlord’s family members moving into the property.
A total of 12% of the attempted evictions had to do with landlords looking to evict tenants so that they could refurbish the property.
According to Tracy Murphy, a policy officer with the charity, there has been a significant increase in landlords doing this in recent months.
Threshold chairperson Aideen Hayden said today that this increase was due to landlords seeking a way around rent certainty legislation.
“Obviously … it’s a back door around the legislation,” said Hayden.
“And it really does need a robust rebuttal and clarification.”
Rent Pressure Zones
The government last year introduced rental caps laws for some areas around the country. Under the legislation, certain areas are designated as ‘rent pressure zones’.
In these zones, landlords are not allowed to raise the rent by more than 4% a year. As well as this, a new tenant in a property can only be charged 4% more than what a previous tenant was paying.
A clause in the Residential Tenancies Acts gives leave for landlords to raise rents above these limits when there is a “substantial change in the nature of the accommodation”.
However, Threshold said that landlords are abusing this clause by carrying out minor refurbishments on its properties then jacking up the rents.
One of its pre-Budget proposals is to amend the Act so that it is explicitly stated that minor renovations cannot be used to get around the limits.
“We have to be very active and diligent in ensuring the law and the spirit of the law is abided by,” said Hayden.
Threshold also called for increased rental protections, a rise to the limits of the Housing Assistance Payment and Rent supplement payments and more tax incentives to protect smaller landlords.
Written by Cormac Fitzgerald and posted on TheJournal.ie