Social Democrats gain cross-party support for new protections for tenants

Eoin Stynes reports on the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill, which will seek to provide tenants with more security while renting

Labour and Sinn Féin have already guaranteed their backing for the Social Democrats’ Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill, with Fianna Fáil set to bolster this support in the coming days.

Barry Cowen, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Housing, Planning and Local Government, has said that he will recommend that Fianna Fáil supports the Bill when the party meets on Tuesday.

Eoin O’Brion, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Housing, Planning and Local Government and Waste Management Policy also said,“Sinn Féin is more than happy to support this legislation from the Social Democrats”.

O’Broin further added that “it is eminently sensible and I can’t see any reason, or I certainly haven’t heard on the floor tonight, any reason why anybody would not enthusiastically support it” while addressing Dáil Eireann in relation to the Bill.

The Social Democrats introduced the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill with the aim of protecting tenants in rented homes and to stem “the flow into homelessness” for people who may need to search for alternative accommodation.

“Our new Renters’ Rights Bill is about giving tenants’ greater security in situations where their landlord is giving them notice to quit”, said Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall who introduced the Bill with her colleague Catherine Murphy TD.

The Bill is split into three sections and aims to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 “to extend the minimum notice period for a tenancy termination by a landlord, to make rent data available to tenants, and to increase the maximum value of fines applying”.

The Bill states that tenants living in a rented property for up to one year must be given a minimum of 90 days notice of termination of their lease. After 12 months the tenant must be given notice of a minimum of 120 days or more by their landlord.

Prospective tenants must also be given information on the previous rents for the property with the aim of curbing the dramatic rise in rental prices in Ireland. A “register of rents” is to be set up under the legislation to ensure that prices in rent pressure zones in bigger cities are not raised above the 4%-per-year which is the cap under current legislation. This information is to be “available for inspection free of charge to new tenants”.

Fines for property owners who break these tenancy laws are also set to rise from the current “€3,000” to “€15,000” if the Bill is passed putting further onus on landlords.

The government has yet to release a statement indicating their position on the Bill.

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