Renters’ Rights Bill would redress balance of power in the rental market

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
13 September 2021
  • Gives security of tenure by restricting excuses for evictions.
  • Brings rented homes into 21st century by banning blanket ban on pets and hanging clothes on balconies.
  • Provides for rent register, so people can see what previous tenants have paid and increases the grounds which rental disputes can go to the RTB.
  • Expends Rent Pressure Zones to the whole country.

The Labour Party has today launched its Renters’ Rights Bill to redress the balance of power in the rental market. A key issue of concern during the Dublin Bay South bye-election, Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said that renters need to be prioritised in Ireland’s housing strategy. Launching the Bill, Labour Dublin Bay South TD Ivana Bacik said we need to guarantee higher standards of rental housing in Ireland to ensure that renters have the right to make their house their home.This Bill will be introduced into the Dáil by the Labour Party during private members’ business next week.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been on the side of landlords for too long. They’re happy to leave renters totally exploited by landlords with out of control rents and little to no security of tenure. We totally lag behind other countries on renters rights. Renters are expected to put up with extortionate rents, evictions at the drop of the hat and many can’t make the place feel like a home. As we rebuild society post pandemic, we need to protect vulnerable people in the housing market like renters. Labour’s Renters’ Rights Bill would put the power back into the hands of renters by strengthening their protections. 

“There is a power imbalance between renters and landlords. Landlords can charge what they want with very little transparency expected of them. This Bill would change that by ensuring that full information is included on the private residential tenancies register for any home – including the number and duration of previous tenancies, any refurbishment works which may have been undertaken. 

“Rents are eating up too much of people’s hard earned pay. Affordable rents are just non-existent in this country. Renters are crippled because there is not enough rental accommodation to deal with the demand. We are calling for a three year rent freeze – and beyond that – so that the market can catch up with the demand. We need to link annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index which would make rents reflective of the economic environment in which people live. This is happening already in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Putting structural changes like these in place will make renting more affordable and a viable long-term option for people.

“A key component of this Bill is strengthening renters’ security of tenure. Right now, the thresholds for evicting a good, hard working and loyal tenant is very low. People are often forced to uproot their whole lives at short notice without any good reason.

“Our Bill would remove 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 would change the rules so that a landlord can only evict renters for renovations where “no reasonable measures can be taken to maintain the dwelling fit for human habitation”. Basically, as a last resort. 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.

“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. We hear stories every day from renters who just don’t feel at home in their rented house despite paying through the teeth for it. Rather than bringing along their favourite couch and light fittings, they have to accept the taste of their landlord. This 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. Pets play a huge role in many people’s lives in providing companionship and emotional support, enhancing overall wellbeing. This Bill would remove any blanket bans on pet ownership for renters. 

“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. Even the much heralded Housing for All policy lacked any ambition on easing the situation for renters. For example, apartment standards for build to rent need to be improved because we have seen the impact of the policy disaster that is student accommodation and co-living developments. The Minister is committing to tenancies of indefinite duration but we need to see the detail of that. We need to change the dynamics in the markets. People need to rent homes, not investment opportunities.”

Deputy Bacik said:

“Current policies do not go far enough to help renters. It should be no surprise to anyone that at the start of the pandemic, many renters fled Dublin at the first opportunity because they simply do not feel that their house is their home. Labour’s Bill would improve renters quality of life. It would put affordability at the heart of the market and it would protect against evictions.

“We need to break the developer-led mindset of the current Government. Reliance upon private development will not fix our housing crisis, and this Government has to stop pretending that it will.

“There are some quick wins that we should immediately implement to increase supply and protect low-income families and individuals who are being badly hit by extortionate rents. That’s what our Bill aims to achieve.”

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