Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (327)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

327. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of requests for additional funding, staff resources or expertise that have been made by the Residential Tenancies Board since January 2016; the purpose of the requested additional funding, staff resources or expertise; the response of his Department to each request in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13140/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The RTB currently has 55 staff which include a number of secondees from other civil/public service bodies.

Demand for the RTB’s services has increased significantly due to the increasing size of the rental sector and also because of the changing regulatory structure. Furthermore, a number of additional functions have been added to the remit of the RTB since 2016, including:

- implementation of new Rent Predictability Measures, such as the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones and associated on-going analysis,

- increased engagement with the Approved Housing Body (AHB) Sector,

- integration of Rent Tribunal functions into the RTB,

- introduction of Free Mediation Services,

- development of a voluntary Landlord Accreditation Scheme,

- establishment of a one-stop shop,

- establishment of one-person Tribunals,

- increased Education/Awareness and research role, and

- consideration and analysis in respect of a Deposit Protection Scheme.

In relation to its requests for additional staffing resources, the following table sets out staffing requests made by the RTB since 2016:

Year

Additional Resources Sought

Additional Resources Sanctioned

2016

Sanction requested for 1 additional post.

1 additional post

2017

Sanction requested for 10.5 additional posts.

10.5 additional posts

2018 to 16 March

Sanction requested for 1 additional posts.

1 additional post

The RTB has 8 vacancies at present and recruitment is ongoing in order to fill these vacancies as quickly as possible.

The RTB’s funding is derived primarily from the fee income, accruing from tenancy registrations as set down by Ministerial Order. This allowed the RTB to move to a self-financing position in 2010. However, due to a growing demand for RTB services and the need to deliver new functions under amendments made to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, and coupled with reductions in registration income resulting from longer-term tenancies, it has become necessary to provide for direct Exchequer funding to the RTB.

Section 176 of the Residential Tenancies Act provides that the fees received by the Residential Tenancies Board under the Act shall be paid into, or disposed of for the benefit of, the Exchequer in such manner as I, as Minister, may direct. By various Ministerial Directions since 2005, a percentage of fees received by the RTB under the Act has been allocated for transfer to local authorities for the purpose of the performance of their functions under the Housing Acts in relation to private rented accommodation, including rental standards inspections. Since 1 July 2016, the RTB retains the entirety of the fees received under the Act to defray its costs.

In 2016, my Department provided some €668,000 in Exchequer funding to the RTB. €170,000 of this amount was a requirement that arose outside of the 2016 Estimates process during the year, for an advertising campaign carried out by the RTB in quarter 1 2016, highlighting changes on foot of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

In 2017, Exchequer funding of €2,329,000 was paid by my Department to the RTB. Included in this amount was €265,000 additional funding outside of the Estimates process in 2017, that arose during the year in respect of :-

1. the provision of Fire Safety leaflets to all landlords to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and obligations in respect of fire safety requirements - €107,200;

2. €112,000 in respect of an Auto-address Eircoding project which was required to support the roll out of the Rent Pressure Zone measure; and

3. Legal Costs - €46,000.