Bacik launches landmark renters bill – asks for mandate to make it law
- Gives security of tenure by restricting excuses for evictions.
- Paves way for affordable rent linking increases to Consumer Price Index, beyond Labour’s three year rent freeze.
- Brings rented homes into 21st century by banning blanket ban on pets and hanging clothes on balconies.
Labour candidate in the Dublin Bay South bye-election Senator Ivana Bacik today launched a bill to give renters a break, asking the voters to give her a mandate to make it law.
Central to her proposal to rebuild Dublin as a fairer city post pandemic, the Renters’ Rights Bill would significantly strengthen renters’ rights across the board, focusing on security of tenure for renters, making the cost of rent affordable in the long term, and ensuring that rented homes are quality homes that renters can make their own.
Launching the Bill, Senator Bacik said she has been moved by constituents’ stories on the doors, with many noting the insecurity of renting and the unaffordable rents.
Senator Bacik said:
“Housing is a key issue that is coming up time and time again for us when talking to constituents.
“Renters are already struggling with the high cost of living and can often barely afford to make ends meet, yet alone save for a deposit to buy their own home.
“The Bill I’m launching today would represent radical change, a step away from the developer-led model that has been pursued in the five wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policy.
“This Bill would deal with three key issues that renters are experiencing – security of tenure, rents and deposits, and quality of rental accommodation.
“It would ensure security of tenure by restricting and limiting the situations in which a landlord can end a tenancy. It removes so-called ‘no fault’ evictions as well as removing the grounds which allows a landlord to end a tenancy on the basis that they intend to sell the property within three months. It provides that a landlord can only evict for renovations where “no reasonable measures can be taken to maintain the dwelling fit for human habitation”. It also deals with landlords evicting renters to move in their own family member – it would restrict this to just spouses, civil partners or children.
“We know that unaffordable rents are crippling renters. There are structural things that need to be dealt with to make renting more affordable for all people – single people, married people, young workers, retired people. I have been particularly struck by the many single people who are renting, for small studios that they can’t quite make feel like home. Single income households are growing and deserve affordable rental options. More than 400,000 people in Ireland live alone, and my bill would take account of this, in particular by ending the rogue practice of landlords demanding more than one month’s rent for deposits.
“Affordability of rent is a key issue. We are calling for a three year rent freeze; and beyond that date, this bill would link annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index, a practice that already exists in countries like Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. We need to make renting more affordable and ensure that people see it as a viable, long-term option.
“There is a power imbalance between renters and landlords. Landlords can charge what they want with very little transparency expected of them. To redress this imbalance, I want to amend the private residential tenancies register to provide full clarity for renters. This Bill would ensure that full information is included for any dwelling – including the number and duration of previous tenancies, any refurbishment works which may have been undertaken.
“We need this type of transparency in the rental market to allow renters to see what works have been carried out to justify any increases in rent. It would also end the practice of landlords seeking to bypass the rules around rent pressure zones on the basis that there have allegedly been substantial renovations to the property. This Bill would refer all such cases to the Residential Tenancies Board.
“Affordability and security of tenure must be dealt with, but we need to put renters at the centre of the housing system and ensure that every home for rent is to high standard. Many renters are telling me on the doors that they feel they cannot make the place their own. Rather than bringing along their favourite couch and light fittings, they have to accept the taste of their landlord. My Bill would give renters the right to opt for an unfurnished home, should they wish to do so, for the same rent. This practice is used in many other countries, and allows renters to make their place their home, which is particularly important for long term renters and families.
“Renters in Ireland remain unable to do the most basic things, like drying their clothes on the balcony or owning a pet. Through introducing model tenancy agreements which have been successful in many other jurisdictions, this bill would ensure that renters are able to hang their clothes out to dry in gardens and on balconies.
“Of course, many families long to have a family pet but unfortunately, it is currently within the gift of individual landlords to allow or ban pets in rented homes which is simply unfair. RTÉ recently reported that some landlords are even charging ‘pet rent’ which is just unbelievable. Pets play a huge role in many people’s lives in providing companionship and emotional support, enhancing overall wellbeing. My Bill would remove any blanket bans on pet ownership for renters.
Launching the bill, Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said:
“Renters account for a significant proportion of households in Ireland now, and yet are among the most vulnerable. Average rents are now at all time high and people have very little security in their rental properties. The patchwork effort by Government is not helping renters, and shows the ongoing failure to address the core problems of soaring rents and lack of security in their tenancies. Average rents in Dublin are €2,000, and increases in wages simply haven’t kept pace with this.
“Renters need a break. Government needs to realise that people are renting homes, not investment opportunities. The Government’s current misguided policy approach is constricting and deprives so many renters of the opportunity to make their place their own. This Bill would put people at the heart of our housing strategy and give power back to renters and away from landlords.”