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Designation of Athlone LEA as Rent Pressure Zone

The Residential Tenancies Board's (RTB) latest Rent Index shows national standardised average rent in Q1 2019 increased by 8.3% and 19 new Rent Pressure Zones announced

  • The RTB Q1 2019 Rent Index shows the national standardised average rent €1,169 per month. This is an 8.3% increase (€90) annually and 2.1% quarter-on-quarter.

  • Based on the new Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) designation criteria, 19 new Local Electoral Areas across 11 counties are to become Rent Pressure Zones, including all of Co Meath and Co Louth and Limerick’s metropolitan area.

  • Important parts of the new rental legislation have commenced giving the RTB the power of investigation and sanctioning and requiring RPZ exemptions to be notified to the RTB.

According to the latest Rent Index from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), in the January-March period (Q1) of 2019, the standardised national average rent was €1,169 per month, up from €1,079 one year earlier (€90 increase). This shows continued growth in rental inflation and affordability issues in the sector.

The year-on-year growth rate of the national standardised average rent rose to 8.3% in Q1 2019. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, rents grew by 2.1%. While growth remains high in Dublin with the standardised average rent of €1,662 per month, an increase of 8.5% (€70) on the previous year rental inflation has been highest in areas outside the Greater Dublin Area with an increase of 9.6% year on year.

It is important to note that there continues to be a divergence in rent growth between new and renewed tenancies with the standardised average rent for new tenancies €1,245 per month compared to €984 for renewed tenancies.

 

Commenting on the latest Rent Index results, Rosalind Carroll, Director of the Residential Tenancies Board said; 

“The RTB Rent Index is an important tool in helping understand and inform the rental market. It is clear that rising rents continue to put pressure on the market. There are a number of complex reasons behind this that policy makers will need to continue to monitor and consider.

Our role is to inform policy makers of these issues but while we cannot control rents themselves, we have increasing powers that assist us in ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are respected. This week the RTB have been given new powers by the Minister and have opened the investigations and sanctions unit and any one that wants to contact us can call or read further information and guidance on our website”.

 

New Rent Pressure Zones and extension to existing Rent Pressure Zones

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 has brought changes to the criteria to assess whether an area can be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone. The new criteria means that areas can be compared to more regionally appropriate standardised average rents.

Following referral from the Housing Agency and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy - the RTB, using the Quarter 1 2019 Rent Index have confirmed to Minister Murphy that 19 Local Electoral Areas (LEAs) meet the designation criteria.

Accordingly, the Minister with effect from 2nd July 2019 has designated 19 RPZs across 11 counties. Once an area becomes an RPZ, rents cannot be increased by more than 4% per year. This applies to new and existing tenancies (unless an exemption is being applied).

It should be noted that the legislation has also extended all existing Rent Pressure Zones to 31st December 2021.

 

RTB Director Rosalind Carroll added; “It is really important that landlords and tenants go to www.rtb.ie where they can check if their rental home is in a Rent Pressure Zone and what rent can be charged.”

 

Investigations and sanctions in effect from 1st July 2019

New legislation has provided the RTB with the power to directly investigate and sanction, where appropriate, specific breaches of Residential Tenancy Law. There are three areas where the RTB will be able to use these powers:

  • Breaches in relation to Rent Pressure Zones
  • False and misleading notices of termination or where properties have not been offered back to the tenant in accordance with the law
  • New investigative powers for non-registration of a tenancy

The introduction of these new powers of investigation and the related sanctions regime, give the RTB a more active and direct regulatory role in the rental sector. Sanctions may range from a caution all the way up to a sanction of €15,000 with opportunities for people to remedy any potential breaches.

Commenting on the new powers for the RTB, Rosalind Carroll, Director said; “We welcome this significant new role for the RTB within the rental market. The ultimate goal of these new powers is not about the sanction but to get to compliance and ultimately have a more effective and functioning rental sector. Further information is available by contacting the RTB or visiting www.rtb.ie.”

 

Other legislative changes

Another important change coming into effect on 1st July 2019 is a requirement for landlords using the Rent Pressure Zone exemption to notify the RTB. This change is significant in getting a better understanding of rents and, in time, getting better information on the impact of these exemptions on the overall rental market.

The new legislation also requires that all notices of termination where the tenancy has been ended are required to be notified and copied to the RTB within 28 days of the tenancy ending. This, along with the information on exemptions, will give the RTB further insight into activity in the rental sector and assist with our regulatory powers.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 also brought in a number of other changes which are listed in the appendix below.

 

The full list of the 19 new LEAs across 11 counties are;

  • Meath: Kells, Trim
  • Louth: Ardee, Dundalk South, Dundalk - Carlingford
  • Wicklow: Arklow
  • Galway: Athenry/Ornamore, Gort/Kinvara
  • Wexford: Gorey
  • Cork; Midleton, Fermoy
  • Laois: Portlaoise, Graiguecullen/Portarlington
  • Waterford: Waterford City East, Waterford City South
  • Westmeath: Athlone
  • Limerick: Limerick City West, Limerick City North
  • Kilkenny: Kilkenny

 

For more information, please see www.rtb.ie

 

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 08/07/2019