The amount of rent payable for a property is agreed between the landlord and tenant at the start of a tenancy. Private landlords must follow certain procedures if they want to raise the rent. The rules are set out in Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. They have recently been amended by the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 and the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016.
These rules only apply to private rented housing, not to housing that is let by local authorities or approved housing bodies (housing associations), both of which charge differential rents based on household income. While approved housing bodies now come under the residential tenancies legislation, their rent reviews will continue to be carried out in accordance with their tenancy agreements, or no more than once in any 12-month period.
The Strategy for the Rental Sector proposed a Rent Predictability Measure, to cap rent increases at 4% per year for the next 3 years in designated Rent Pressure Zones. The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 brought this measure into effect from 24 December 2016. It was implemented immediately in the 4 Dublin local authority areas and in Cork city. Several further towns and all of Galway city have also been designated as Rent Pressure Zones, with effect from 27 January 2017.
Rent Pressure Zones are to be designated for a maximum of 3 years.
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has a central role in supporting the rented housing market. It deals with disputes between landlords and tenants, including disputes about rent reviews. It also provides information about rent reviews and increases.
Under Section 19 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, landlords cannot charge more than the open market rate of rent. Market rent (for properties outside Rent Pressure Zones) is defined in Section 24 as ‘the rent which a willing tenant not already in occupation would give and a willing landlord would take for the dwelling’. The RTB publishes a quarterly index of rents, which you can use to check current market rents. Read more about market rent and the rent index.
A rent review can result in an increase or reduction of the rent. In general, your landlord has the right to review the rent once every 2 years. Unless the accommodation has changed substantially, it cannot be reviewed more often than this, unless it is in a Rent Pressure Zone.
Rent Pressure Zones: Under the Rent Predictability Measure, a number of Rent Pressure Zones have been designated. Rent increases in these zones are capped and there are limits on how often the rent can increase. The first such zones were the areas covered by:
Further Rent Pressure Zones were designated with effect from 27 January 2017.
For a new tenancy (starting on or after 24 December 2016) in a Rent Pressure Zone, the landlord may raise the rent once every 12 months. The maximum rent increase will be 4% per year. The landlord must give the tenant the following information, in writing, at the start of the tenancy:
In existing tenancies (starting before 24 December 2016) the first rent review in a Rent Pressure Zone may take place a minimum of 24 months after the previous time the rent was set. The maximum rent increase will be 4% (which amounts to 2% per year since the previous rent was set). Subsequent rent reviews may take place after a minimum period of 12 months.
Exceptions: Properties that have not been let at any time in the previous 2 years, or that have been substantially refurbished, can be exempted from these caps. However, the rent set for a property must be in line with market rent for similar properties in the area.
Outside of Rent Pressure Zones: Your rent cannot be increased until 24 months after the start of your tenancy. If your rent was reviewed at any time in the last 24 months, it cannot be reviewed again until 24 months after the date of the last review.
You can use the RTB’s calculator to check whether your dwelling is in a Rent Pressure Zone and to work out whether the rent can be raised and, if so, by how much. You will need to enter your address or Eircode, the current rent and the date when the rent was last set.
The RTB has published examples (pdf) of how the calculations work.
Your landlord must give you proper notice of the amount of the proposed new rent and the date from which it is to take effect. The notice must be in writing and contain the information prescribed by the legislation – see ‘Notice of rent review’ below. Emails, text messages and spoken messages are not valid forms of notice.
You must get at least 90 days’ notice of a rent review.
The landlord must also notify the RTB of the revised rent so that it can update the registration details of the tenancy.
The notice of new rent must comply with the provisions of Section 26 of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015. The notice must:
In a Rent Pressure Zone, the notice must also comply with Section 35 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016.
The RTB has published a sample notice of rent review, which includes the extra information required in Rent Pressure Zones.
As a tenant, you can ask your landlord to review the rent if:
Threshold, the national housing charity, publishes detailed advice on how to deal with rent increases. Its leaflet on resolving problems during your tenancy (pdf) includes tips on dealing with rent increases. You can contact Threshold for advice on your particular situation – see ‘Where to apply’ below’.
If there is any dispute about the amount of rent being proposed, either side can refer the dispute to the RTB. If you are claiming that the proposed rent is higher than the market rate, you should provide evidence of rental rates for similar properties in the same area.
If the landlord has given you a valid written notice of the rent increase, you must contact the RTB with your dispute before the date that the new rent comes into effect or within 28 days of getting the notice, whichever is later. There is no time limit if the notice is not valid.
You must continue to pay your rent until the case has been determined by the RTB.
You can contact Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service on 1800 454 454 for general support, advice and advocacy around protecting your tenancy.
There may be flexibility in cases where landlords seek rents that are above the Rent Supplement limits. This applies to existing tenants and to new Rent Supplement applicants. The circumstances of tenants are considered on a case-by-case basis and rents increased above the set limits as appropriate. Contact the local office that administers your Rent Supplement.
The Department of Social Protection, in conjunction with Threshold, operates a special protocol for tenants on Rent Supplement in areas where supply issues are particularly acute - Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Galway and Cork city. Contact the Tenancy Protection Service on 1800 454 454.
To refer a dispute to the RTB for resolution, it costs €15 to apply online and €25 for an application on paper (contact the RTB to request a form).
Dublin Outreach Clinic
Co. Council Office
Opening Hours:Tuesday 2pm - 5pm
Tel: (01) 635 3651
PO Box 47
Tel: 0818 303 037 or 00353 766 887 350
Fax: 0818 303 039
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.