Time for Government to Implement tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme

27 June 2017

Labour spokesperson on Housing, Jan O’Sullivan TD has called on the Government to implement the long delayed tenancy deposit protection scheme. The law to allow for this was passed in 2015, and two years on it is time for the new Minister for Housing to act and allow the Residential Tenancies Board to launch the long awaited scheme. Unfortunately, the Government has indicated it plans to scrap the proposed scheme rather than implement what took three years to pass into law.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“After two years, the Government has failed to implement a tenancy deposit protection scheme which was passed into law in 2015, and it was revealed in a recent Parliamentary Question by my colleague Willie Penrose that it now intends to scrap the law rather than bring in the much needed scheme.

“Labour fought hard to secure this new scheme and it is disappointing that Fine Gael are dragging their feet on this much needed protection that is common in many other countries.

“Over 1 in 5 of the complaints at the Residential Tenancies Board relate to landlords not returning their deposits. However a protection scheme would free up this time for other more pressing cases related to rent and tenancy disputes.

“The Government is now saying that due to a low interest rate they won’t go ahead with the scheme as this was how it was intended to fund it. However as late as October 2016 the previous Minister had told me he intended to commence the legislation so the Government’s excuse doesn’t add up. It appears the scheme has been nobbled by landlords or other vested interests who don’t want to see a regulated rental market in Ireland.

“Further, the main ECB interest rate is the same as it was in December 2015 so the excuse put forward for protecting unscrupulous landlords doesn’t stack up. The resources freed up through less RTB deposit cases make it a ‘no brainer’. The increased certainty for tenants will also make the private rental market more efficient and secure, and ensure all landlords are registered with the RTB.

“The 10 year anniversary of the UK’s deposit protection scheme was at the beginning of June, but a decade on Ireland has still failed to act.

“I am disappointed that Fine Gael are refusing to help protect the most vulnerable tenants in our private rental market, standing by while over 20% of RTB time is wasted on disputes over deposits that could be eradicated with a tenant deposit scheme in Ireland.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: Parliamentary Questions on a Deposit Protection Scheme

To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the reason a deposit protection scheme has not been introduced, notwithstanding the fact it was promised five years ago; the level of progress being made to put in place a structure to enable such a scheme to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Willie Penrose.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017. Ref No: 8784/17

Reply: Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for, among other things, the establishment of a tenancy deposit protection scheme to be operated by the Residential Tenancies Board.
Indecon Consultants were originally appointed to carry out the research on the development of a deposit retention scheme and they reported in November 2012. The provisions in the 2015 Act were developed subsequently, informed by their analysis. However, a lot has changed in the rental market since the scheme was first envisaged. The scheme was originally intended to be financed by the interest payable on deposits lodged; this is no longer viable given the current financial market conditions. Furthermore, disputes relating to deposits are no longer the most common dispute type referred to the RTB. In 2015, deposit retention, at 22%, was the third most common dispute type referred to the Board, behind invalid notice of termination at 23% and rent arrears and over-holding at 32%.

While the Government is fully committed to the principle of ensuring effective protection of deposits, it is now proposed that the current legislative provisions be reviewed to take account of the changed circumstances and determine what improvements should be made to ensure that the scheme, when introduced, can operate effectively.
The review of the scheme will take place this year with any necessary legislative changes to be included in the General Scheme of a new simplified and consolidated Residential Tenancies Bill which, under the Strategy for the Rental Sector, will be brought forward by end 2017.

To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he is proceeding with the plan to introduce a deposit protection scheme in the private rented sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jan O’Sullivan.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 20th October, 2016. Ref No: 31226/16

Reply: Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 , enacted on 4 December 2015 , provides, inter alia, for the establishment of a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
The deposit protection scheme provisions of the Act will be commenced as soon as the necessary conditions are in place to support the establishment of the scheme, which will be a major project. The priority at present is the development of a strategy for the rented sector by the end of this year in line with the commitment contained in the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness.

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