Landlords are using a loophole in legislation designed to prevent rents being raised above 4% per annum to inflict even higher rent hikes on hard-pressed tenants.

Tenants in Bancroft Centre in Tallaght have been served with a rent increase of 6% by their landlord DAD Property Fund. To make matters worse, this is a Government backed firm that has received funding of €8m from the State via the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

Social Democrats General Election candidate for Dublin South West Carly Bailey has called on the Housing Minister to introduce without any further delay, promised legislation which will penalise any landlord who tries to raise rents above 4% per annum.

A proposed new Residential Tenancies Bill, which was meant to have been passed before the Dáil summer recess, will fine unscrupulous landlords up to €15,000 as well as threaten them with a prison sentence if convicted of breaking the rules governing Rent Pressure Zones. Ms Bailey says “Housing is the number one issue coming up at the doors. There is barely a family who has not been personally affected by it. Fine Gael keep telling us that their housing plan is working and they are do everything they can to tackle the housing crisis and reduce homelessness. It is very clear in Dublin South West and around the country that this is simply not the case. With such weak legislation in place, they are actively contributing in making the situation even worse.”

Ms Bailey added: “The people of Tallaght and Dublin South West are already struggling to find affordable rental accommodation and hard-pressed families and individuals should not be placed under any further avoidable burden.” Rent Pressure Zones were introduced by the Government in late 2016 to combat spiralling rent by placing a 4% cap of the amount by which rents can increase annually in designated areas which include all parts of Dublin as well as Cork city, Galway city and several other towns including Bray, Greystones, Naas, Cobh, Carrigaline, Celbridge, Leixlip and Drogheda.

However, the 4% cap is not applicable to properties that are new to the rental market and which have not been let at any time in the previous two years as well as properties which have undergone a substantial change. Ms Bailey said it was clear there were gaps in the legislation which were being exploited by some landlords. But what is even worse, some of those landlords are being financed by the very State that is promising to tackle the problems of homelessness and an acute lack of housing. She advised any tenant who feels they are being charged too much rent or being asked to pay an increase in rent above what is allowed to seek advice from the Residential Tenancies Board.