Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (404)

Holly Cairns

Question:

404. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he is taking to ensure student renters have additional rights including the establishment of a legal definition of rental deposits, limiting rental deposits to the value of one month’s rent and implement a deposit protection scheme which would see deposits lodged with an independent third party such as the Residential Tenancies Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38885/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Acts 2004 - 2020 do not prescribe specific terms and conditions regarding the payment of rents or deposits for inclusion in individual letting agreements in the private rental market including the student-specific accommodation sector. Contract law governs such arrangements.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provided for, among other things, the establishment of a tenancy deposit protection scheme to be operated by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

There have been significant changes in the rental market since the 2015 scheme was first envisaged and designed. For example, the 2015 scheme was intended to be financed by the interest payable on deposits lodged; this is no longer viable, given the current financial market conditions. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that disputes relating to deposits are no longer the most common dispute type referred to the RTB.

Financing the operation of the scheme is an important consideration, particularly in terms of ensuring that the likely outcomes of a new scheme are achieved efficiently and effectively and that the best value from public funds is secured. Careful consideration is therefore required to introduce any necessary reforms and enhancements to the 2015 scheme, with a view to considering whether and how to introduce a re-designed scheme that is fit for purpose and suitable for current and future rental and financial markets.

Any review of the scope and provisions of a Deposit Protection scheme will need to take account of changes in the residential sectors since the 2015 Deposit Protection Scheme legal provisions were enacted, to inform any necessary legislative change. Consideration will need to be given as to whether or not it is feasible to proceed to revise and implement a deposit protection scheme at this time, or to defer to a later point in time, when the RTB's Change Management Plan has been fully implemented and more robust data and information is available for consideration.