I propose to take Questions Nos. 1570 and 1571 together.
Tenants who are concerned that their rent has not been set or reviewed in accordance with RPZ legislation are encouraged to contact the RTB and to raise a dispute for resolution, where appropriate. Where an unlawful rent increase has given rise to a tenancy termination, the RTB has the power to award damages for abuse of tenancy termination provisions including a direction to permit the tenant to resume possession of the dwelling.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2018 contains amendments to enhance the rental data to be provided to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), including provision for the annual registration of tenancies and the enforcement of the requirement to update the RTB with rent alterations. The aim is to regularly gather more accurate and detailed tenancy and rental data to improve the information available to assist with policy formulation in the residential rental sector and with the enforcement of tenancy law by the RTB. The Bill, as amended in the Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on 11 April 2019, is available at the following link:
The Bill is expected to be enacted during the current Oireachtas session to provide powers to the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct, including non-compliance with the rent increase restriction in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs). The Bill will allow the RTB to initiate an investigation into such improper conduct by a landlord without the need for a complaint to be made. The rental data generally gathered by the RTB through its registration and rental update processes will assist in identifying cases for investigation and sanctioning under the proposed new Part 7A (Complaints, Investigations and Sanctions), which is to be inserted into the Residential Tenancies Acts by the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018. Any member of the public can also make a complaint to the RTB regarding such alleged improper conduct by a landlord that has occurred, or is occurring, under the new Part 7A.
The Bill will also make it a criminal offence for landlords to implement rent increases that contravene the law. It is expected that these rental reforms will act as a significant deterrent to unlawful rent setting in RPZs including any unlawful rent increases that might occur in the context of a change of tenants.