Residential Tenancies (Complaints of Anti-Social Behaviour and Neglect of Dwelling Exteriors) (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to amend third party complaints and to provide for related matters.

This Bill will amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 in respect of third-party complaints. This is an important issue, as the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and others are aware. The Bill aims to tackle directly antisocial behaviour in housing estates. It forms part of a broader suite of measures Fianna Fáil has put forward, such as boosting the number of gardaí, expanding antisocial behaviour orders, and putting residential support workers in place in social housing estates. Too many communities throughout Ireland are being intimidated by a handful of households. From outright antisocial behaviour to letting their properties fall into disrepair, which casts a shadow on the entire estate, a small minority is damaging the quality of life for the majority.

This Bill will allow any third party to complain about antisocial behaviour to avoid specific neighbours being intimidated. In addition and importantly, it sets out standards for the exterior of a property that must be maintained, such as cleaning up rubbish and maintaining gardens, and it expands the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, to terminate a tenancy in extreme cases. Many of us are able to spot the properties in housing estates that are rented, particularly at this time when we are canvassing with candidates and councillors throughout the country. Much of this is due to landlords not taking responsibility for the external upkeep of those properties. When complaints are made by neighbours of the affected properties, the RTB will not step in and log them as formal complaints. This can have a detrimental effect on the quality of life in the estate and also on the appearance of the estate.

This is an important issue. The Bill would give additional powers to the RTB. It would mean that I as a Deputy for Dublin Fingal could lodge a complaint on behalf of a resident in an estate. It would also mean that the landlord would have the responsibility of ensuring the property externally is kept up to standard. Currently, if litter and rubbish is being left in front or back gardens, the local authority will only get involved if it is deemed that there is an environmental health risk to neighbours or people living in the estate. I am introducing this Bill today and I intend to use Private Members' time in the coming weeks to move it forward on Second Stage. It will amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to give these additional powers to the RTB and to expand the definition of affected parties, thereby giving neighbours in an estate the ability to lodge complaints about antisocial behaviour carried out by tenants, or indeed complaints about landlords who do not take responsibility to keep dwellings up to standard, which happens regularly in residential housing estates.

Is the Bill opposed?

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.