Charity warns landlords using "loopholes" to sidestep rental caps

Threshold has warned that some landlords are terminating tenancies for "spurious" reasons

Charity warns landlords using "loopholes" to sidestep rental caps

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A national housing charity has warned that landlords are terminating tenancies for "spurious" reasons in order to sidestep the government's rental cap strategy.

Under legislation introduced at the end of 2016, landlords are prevented from raising rents by more than 4% per year in certain designated Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) around the country.

However, they can introduce bigger rent hikes if they carry out major renovations.

Threshold spokesperson Tracey Murphy said some landlords have been abusing the loophole in recent months:

"This is a new trend - especially in the last six months," she said.

"We have an example from Cork of a client that came to us. The landlord put down new carpets and painted the house and then asked for a 30% rent increase.

"For us, that flouts the spirit of the legislation that was brought in, in December 2016."

Eviction

Tenancy termination remains the biggest issue facing Threshold's frontline services - with a flash survey revelaing that more than 100 people contacted the charity in relation to attempted evictions over a two-week period in July.

The charity's CEO, John-Mark McCafferty said: "We are concerned that legislation aimed at providing security for tenants remains inadequate, particularly in the context of loopholes allowing tenancies to be terminated, sometimes in spurious circumstances."

"We are calling for the introduction of indefinite tenancies and for the Government to make amendments to the law as a matter of priority to protect the position of tenants where properties are being sold or are being repossessed by lenders.”

Budget 2018

Mr McCafferty was speaking as the charity launched its pre-budget submission this morning.

The document calls on the government to take strong and targeted measures" to address the ongoing crisis in the housing sector."

The charity has called for:

  • The Introduction of the Deposit Protection Scheme
  • Secure funding for housing advice and advocacy supports
  • An increase in state housing benefits to reflect market rents
  • A move towards the introduction of an NCT for housing
  • The introduction of tax reforms to assist small-scale landlords
  • The development of a cost rental system for social and affordable rental accommodation

Housing NCT

Mr McCafferty said the enforcement of minimum standards in rental housing will be essential moving forward.

"We are calling on the Government to introduce a gradual ban on renting properties that do not meet minimum standards," he said.

"As part of this measure, we are also restating our call for an NCT-type certification system for private rented housing - to be monitored by the local authorities."

He said the government must use the upcoming budget to address the housing crisis and prevent more vulnerable people from becoming homeless.