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Moves to strengthen tenants' rights welcome but do they go far enough?

Labour spokesperson on Housing, Jan O’Sullivan, has said reports of Government legislation to strengthen the rights of tenants are positive, but that the devil will be in the detail of the plans.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“I am glad to see that the Government has finally woken up to the realisation that strengthening security of tenure is a key element in tackling the housing crisis. We know that most people that are now becoming homeless are coming from the private rental sector, and so these glaring issues need to be addressed.

“In our Residential Tenancies Bill, which we published earlier this month, the Labour Party called for the publication of a Residential Tenancies Register, so that a new tenant would know what the previous tenant was being charged in a bid to avoid massive rent hikes without their knowledge.

“It is therefore welcome that the Minister appears to have taken this on board with reports suggesting he is looking at enabling the RTB to publish rents in a given area. However the devil will be in the detail on this measure, and I would be concerned that what is being mooted doesn’t go far enough if what materialises is an average rent per area or postcode, with such information already broadly available on property websites and the like.

“Increasing notice periods should give the tenant more time to find new accommodation, but of course the issue still remains about the lack of affordable homes to rent in most areas.

“Legislation to ensure the 4% cap in Rent Pressure Zones is not exploited is also to be welcomed, but it is clear from the consistent rising national rents that this 4% threshold needs to be extended right across the country.

“There are also a number of other measures that could be implemented by Government to strengthen tenants’ rights, such as ensuring that a deposit wouldn’t exceed one month’s rent, or that a high bar be set when it comes to evicting tenants on the grounds of ‘renovation’ or refurbishments.

"These sorts of practical steps should be taken in the immediate term and without delay until the autumn or months down the line; the urgency of this crisis demands it."

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