BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) report has been published. The RTB is a public body set up to support and develop “a well-functioning rental housing sector”. They oversee the private rental market, the Approved Housing Body and accommodation specific to students
Their role is to regulate the rental sector, inform policy through the provision of information and research. They also maintain the national register of tenancies. They resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. They investigate improper conduct by a landlord. For example, they will investigate and, if required, sanction a landlord for increasing rent by more than is allowed under the calculation set out in the Residential Tenancies Act. They can sanction a landlord with a formal written caution and/or fine up to €15,000 with costs up to the same amount.
According to their latest report: “The general picture of the rental market for new tenancies for Q4 2021 can be characterised by a continued, and marked fall in the number of registered tenancies, and by an escalation in inflationary pressures on an annualised basis but with a slight moderation in the pace of within-year acceleration i.e. the quarter-on-quarter growth rate is negative.”
The main findings are as follows:
* New registered tenancies have fallen by 48% year on year to just under 9,350 new tenancies.
* Rents on an annualised basis grew by 9% in Q4 of 2021.
* The national standardised average rent was €1,415 in Q4 2021, a decrease of €4 compared to the previous quarter.
* Averaged standardised rents in Dublin stand at €1,972 while outside Dublin its €1,393. The difference between rents in Dublin and outside Dublin are stark! A one bedroom house in Dublin on average is €1,500 a month whereas a four bedroom house outside Dublin is €1,266 a month.
In Kilkenny the standardised average rents in new tenancies is above €1,000 a month whereas in Leitrim the average is €740 a month. In Kilkenny according to the report the average standardised rent increased by 1.2% quarter on quarter while the averaged rent in new tenancies increased by 8.3% year on year.
Commenting on the report, Threshold, the national housing charity, believes that the average yearly rental increase of 9% in new tenancies – as reported hides some of the incredibly worrying increases on a county and city level, particularly those subject to Rent Pressure Zones and a 2% cap on rent increases.
Threshold Chief Executive John-Mark McCafferty said: “The average annual increase was 13.8% in Limerick City and 27.6% in Waterford City, which equate to an additional €1,844 and €2,740 in rent a year …with the spike in inflation and the huge increases in the cost of energy and fuel this is money that many people do not have to spare.”
Threshold have identified that private renters have become more accepting of invalid rent increases, as there are no other housing options available to them.
According to Mr McCaffery, 60% of rent review notices brought to Threshold in the first quarter of 2022 were invalid with more threshold’s clients seeking support with rent arrears as private renters simply cannot afford their rent. They are speaking to more and more stressed and anxious people seeking financial assistance to make payments, or who are cutting back on essential items to stay in their homes.
Threshold believe there are ways to help theses distressed renters. They propose the creation of a rent arrears fund to support renters. Increase the HAP limits to reflect current market rents. Changes the tax system to retain small landlords in the sector and so maintain supply as many small landlords are fleeing the market.
The 2% cap on rent increases mentioned in the report should be limiting rent increase, but the report suggests this is not the case.
You can contact Threshold on 1800 454454 or go to the website www.threshold.ie regardless of where you live; in a Rent Pressure Zone or not and they will review your case. Their service is free, independent and confidential.
The RTB report can be accessed at www.rtb.ie