Rent Transparency Bill 2017: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to render it unlawful for any person to rent residential property without provision of, and agreement to publication of, pertinent information to the Residential Tenancies Board.

Everyone in this Chamber is all too aware of how difficult the housing market is right now, for both buyers and renters. Some things have been achieved in the past year and I pay tribute to the former Minister, Deputy Coveney, and the current Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, for the work done in this field. However, as regards action in the rental market, more can be done. As a renter myself I am very conscious of the problems renters face. These problems are faced not just by my generation but by an ever-growing number of people across an ever-growing number of age cohorts.

It is quite clear the property price register has given information and transparency and has allowed people in the past to make more informed choices when it comes to the purchase of property. The same power must be given to, and it must be expanded for, those in the rental sector. This is not, nor should it be projected as, adversarial legislation. It is pro-tenant but it is also pro-good landlord and it complements the rent protection zone legislation introduced by the former Minister, Deputy Coveney. It ensures the legislation is more likely to be adhered to, allows renters to make more informed choices and ensures that landlords cannot breach the rental protection zone rules between tenants. I see examples of this regularly. People present to my office having had a lease which has expired and where the landlords are putting up the rent by 20% or 30% between tenants, in a clear breach of rent protection zone rules that is happening every day. The transparency and information allowed by this Bill would fix any potential breaches in this area. The Government should be concerned about making its own rules work in the best way possible by minimising rent increases between tenants, both old and new, and it is incumbent on Deputies of all parties to work to make the market as good as possible for both tenants and good landlords.

Some would say this adds bureaucracy or unnecessary administration but I do not think so. The Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, already collects this information when the tenancy is registered, together with the information on the size and type of property. This Bill effectively liberates that existing information for the public good. As we know, for markets to work well certain things are needed and one of the key ingredients is information. Ronan Lyons, the esteemed economist from Trinity College, has noted that those active in the housing market a decade ago or more know well the feeling of not knowing whether they overpaid for a property and this feeling haunts many renters right now as they do not know what a fair price is. In Dublin in particular, and especially in my constituency of Dublin North-West, people often take whatever property is available for whatever price is available. Information is the root of what this Bill promises and I commend it to the House.

Is the Bill opposed?

It is a pity the Government did not take an amendment I tabled on this matter last year.

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.