Government approves reform and extension of rent pressure zones

Darragh O’Brien

The government has approved legislation to reform and extend rent pressure zones (RPZs).

Key provisions are set to be inserted into the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021, published on 17 June, to reform the rent increase restrictions in RPZs. These reforms will take effect upon the passage of the bill, expected by Friday 9 July.

The current cap of four per cent on annual rent increases will be replaced and rents in RPZs can now only go up, if necessary, in line with general inflation as recorded in the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP).

As HICP averaged 0.73 per cent over the past three years, this will result in far lower rent increases for the estimated 74 per cent of all tenancies which are in RPZs.

For those outside of RPZs, the provision for bi-annual rent reviews will be extended for an additional three years from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2024. This provides rent certainty for tenants outside of RPZs for a minimum two-year period at a time.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “Improving the standards, security and affordability for renters is a priority for me and for the Government. We are making significant changes in recognition of the fact that tenants continue to face persistent pressures in the rental and housing markets.

”I have always acknowledged that for some, the 4 per cent cap on rent increases in RPZs became a target rather than a limit. We are now taking action to ensure that tenants will only pay rent increases, if required to, which are in line with general inflation, which is currently below 2 per cent.

”The linkage with the HICP respects the constitutionally protected property rights of landlords and aims to safeguard continued investment in the sector by existing and new landlords to deliver the requisite supply of high-quality rental accommodation.”

He added: “In addition to significantly reducing the level of rent increases in RPZs, the bill will also restrict the level of upfront payments required of tenants, to a total value that does not exceed two months’ rent to cover any deposit and one month rent in advance.

“We are also extending protections for those most impacted by Covid-19, in arrears and at risk of losing their tenancy. Such tenants will be protected from rent increases and/or evictions to January 2022.

“All tenants, including students and the most vulnerable tenants, are set to gain significant protections under this bill.”

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