Minister Murphy announces the designation of 19 new Rent Pressure Zones(RPZs)

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Mr Eoghan Murphy, today (2 July) announced the designation of 19 new Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) across 11 counties in the following Local Electoral Areas:

Ardee

 

Dundalk-South

 

Kells

 

Portlaoise

 

Arklow

 

Fermoy

 

Kilkenny

 

Trim

 

Athenry-Oranmore

 

Gorey

 

Limerick City North

 

Waterford City East

 

Athlone – Westmeath

 

Gort-Kinvara

 

Limerick City West

 

Waterford City South

 

Dundalk-Carlingford

 

Graiguecullen-Portarlington

 

Midleton

 

 

Speaking today Minister Murphy said: “This is the most significant expansion of rent controls since the rent pressure zones were first introduced two years ago. Nineteen new areas will now come under the 4% annual cap. It is a direct result of the new rent reforms that were introduced into law last month. We brought these changes in because while our rent controls are having an impact, they are clearly needed outside of Dublin and in other existing high rent areas. Because of these changes roughly 65% of renters are now covered by rent controls.”

The designations come on foot of the Residential Tenancies Board’s Rent Index Report for Q1 2019 which was published today and is produced in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute.

The Rent Index Report contains the rent information on which the new designations are based.

The Minister continued: “Rents are still too high and in some parts of the country are still rising unsustainably. This was anticipated and that’s why we moved to change the criteria for RPZ designation. It is also why we strengthened the enforcement of existing rent pressure zones. These changes will take time to have an effect as they have only recently become law. It is also important to remember that the short term letting reforms should now also see an increased supply of long term lets which should also help tackle rising rents.”

“The new rent control areas are important, but so are new protections for renters everywhere that were introduced last month with the rent reform bill which had cross-party support in the Oireachtas. I know some will call for a rent freeze as a result of the latest information. Rent freezes might seem like a good idea for people who are currently renting because they freeze the rent. But they also freeze the supply and that is not helpful in terms of people who are looking for somewhere new to rent today or tomorrow. We will continue to monitor rent pressures and make improvements in line with the recommendations of the Residential Tenancies Board.”

The Minster has also commenced other parts of the Residential Tenancies Act 2019, which make it a criminal offence for landlords to implement rent increases that contravene the law; providing powers to the RTB to investigate and administratively sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct including non-compliance with the rent increase restriction in RPZs and allowing the RTB to initiate an investigation without the need for a complaint to be made.

Following investigation and where a sanction is imposed for improper conduct it could cost a landlord up to €30,000 (a financial penalty of up to €15,000; payment of RTB investigation costs of up to €15,000).

ENDS

 Note for Editors

A Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) is a designated area where rents cannot be increased by more than 4% per annum. This applies to new and existing tenancies (unless an exemption is being applied).

  • The three different standardized average rents used for designation purposes are:
  1. Dublin areas will remain compared to the national standardised average rent.
  2. ‘The Greater Dublin Area’ (Kildare, Meath, Wicklow) less Dublin will be compared to a new criteria which is the national standardised average rent excluding Dublin.
  3. The rest of the country – areas outside ‘The Greater Dublin Area’ will be compared to an outside GDA standardised average rent.

These new designations are based on the revised criteria introduced by the Minister and this means there are now an estimated 65% of tenancies in RPZs.

RTB Investigations And Sanctions

  • Increased Exchequer funding of over €7m was secured for 2019 for RTB operational costs to provide for the rising demand for RTB services and the implementation of the new functions contained in the RTA 2019 Act.  This is 60% higher than 2018 provision of just under €4.4m.
  • The RTB has carried out a recruitment campaign with some authorised officers recruited and in place with the remainder of the team to join in the next few weeks.
  • Management and support staff in place with additional resource to join team following a recruitment campaign.
  • RTB are operational and accepting cases where improper conduct suspected.
Role Description Nr of sanctions Current Status
Legislative Change Programme Manager Lead and deliver the implementation of new legislative mandate requirements 1 Vacancy filled
Authorised officers Senior investigators responsible for the identification and investigation of potential breaches of the RTA. 8 Recruitment completed.

3 vacancies filled, Further 5 personnel taking up positions over the coming weeks

HEO Investigations Manager 1 Vacancy filled
EO Initial complaints and marketing 4 Open recruitment competition for EO vacancies ongoing
CO Admin support 1 Vacancy filled