I thank the Deputy for the question. "Overcrowding" is dealt with in Part IV of the Housing Act 1966, as amended. Minimum standards in rental accommodation apply to all properties let or available to let. Where someone believes that a property is being made available to let in breach of the standards, for example through overcrowding, the matter should be referred to the relevant housing authority. Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with requirements under the Act is guilty of an offence. Fines for non-compliance with the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017, which came into force on 1 July 2017, have been increased, with the maximum fine having gone up from €3,000 to €5,000 and the daily fine for a continuing offence increased from €250 to €400.
My Department will be examining amendments to the legislative provisions in relation to overcrowding as part of the Residential Tenancies Board's change management plan and the preparation of further legislation during the current Oireachtas session. This legislation will also strengthen the RTB's enforcement functions, for example, by making it an offence for a landlord to contravene the provisions relating to rent pressure zones and providing more protections for tenants.
Inspections are currently carried out by local authorities on a risk-based approach, targeting properties, such as older properties and those with a history of quality problems, that are identified as being at risk of not complying. Provision has been made for an allocation of €2.5 million in 2018 to facilitate increased inspections of properties, with the intention of providing further increases each year in the period to 2021 to enable targeted inspection coverage of 25% of rental properties annually, which is to say every property will be inspected once every four years. My Department will be writing to each local authority chief executive shortly with a view to agreeing increased inspection targets and developing implementation plans to achieve these. These will build, in particular, on the inspection arrangements that apply in relation to properties in which there are tenancies supported under the housing assistance payment scheme. In addition, a landlord accreditation scheme to educate landlords on best practice and their rights and responsibilities is being developed by the RTB. It is also intended to change the requirements for registration with the Residential Tenancies Board to require landlords to certify that their property is compliant with these standards.