Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (405)

Holly Cairns

Question:

405. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on providing additional investment in the Residential Tenancies Board in order that it can proactively investigate cases and to ensure properties are registered with the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38886/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2020, to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

Additional powers and functions were conferred on the RTB by provisions in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) 2019 Act, which came into effect from 1st July 2019. The key provisions of the Act make it a criminal offence for landlords to implement rent increases that contravene the law, that do not adhere to the new definition of a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation for the purpose of an exemption from the 4% p.a. rent increase restriction, or fail to cooperate with an RTB investigation, or fail to register and update tenancies with the RTB.

The Act provides powers to the RTB to investigate and administratively sanction (up to €30,000) landlords who engage in improper conduct including non-compliance with the rent increase restriction in RPZs and allows the RTB to initiate an investigation without the need for a complaint to be made. The RTB actively pursues landlords for non-registration.

An increase of €2M in Current Exchequer Funding was provided to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) for 2020 , bringing the total amount of funding for operational costs for the RTB to €9M and a further additional €2M in Current Exchequer funding for RTB operational costs has been secured in Budget 2021.

The RTB received santion for an additional 29 staff in 2019 in order that it would be resourced to deliver on its broadened mandate and sanction for a further additional 5 staff was granted in July 2020 following the Residential Tenancies and Valuations Act 2020.

The increase in funding and staff provided to the RTB is designed to ensure that the new legislative provisions introduced in both 2019 and 2020 are fully and focrefully implemented.

The Residential Tenancies and Valuations Act 2020, which provides protection for tennats impacted economically by Covid-19, has further expanded the RTB’s mandate and added to the complexity of its operations.

There has been significant engagement with tenants and landlords around the Covid-19 Emergency Legislation and the 2020 Act to educate and support landlords and tenants on the provisions of the new legislation, including a number of Guidance and FAQ documents and a mailshot leaflet issued to every landlord and tenant registered with the RTB. It is envisaged that as we move through Covid-19 and deal with the social and economic impact of the pandemic that more measures, including legislative changes, will be required for those tenants and landlords impacted by issues such as rent arrears, overholding and evictions. Increased activities will be required to engage fully with the sector and support tenants and landlords during these difficult times, including the provision of increased direct supports and continued targeted education and awareness campaigns.

I want to confirm my overall support for the RTB and the best way I can do this is by providing it with the resources it requires to be effective.