Rent increases in private rented housing

Introduction

The amount of rent you pay 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 residential tenancies legislation.

These rules about rent increases apply to private rented housing. They do not apply to housing let by local authorities or approved housing bodies, as they charge differential rents based on household income. While approved housing bodies come under the residential tenancies legislation, their rent reviews are carried out in accordance with their tenancy agreements, or no more than once in any 12-month period.

Student-specific accommodation comes under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). This means that student tenancies are covered by residential tenancies legislation and these tenants have most of the same rights as private tenants, including that their landlords must adhere to the rules about increasing the rent.

COVID-19 and renting

Since March 2020, there have been a number of different protections put in place to support tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which have expired and others which overlap, see below.

In October 2020, an eviction ban was introduced for any period when people’s movement is restricted to 5 kilometres from their home as part of COVID-19 restrictions. For example, 5km restrictions applied from 31 December 2020 to 12 April 2021, so there was an eviction ban during this time and for a ten-day grace period after this. Any time these protections are in operation they have an ongoing effect on notice periods and the calculation of Part 4 tenancies. See Evictions when COVID-19 restrictions limit movement to 5km for more information.

There are also rental laws to protect tenants economically affected by COVID-19, who have fallen into rent arrears and are at risk of losing their tenancy. These protections include a rent freeze and a 90-day notice period when ending a tenancy. The protections became available on 2 August 2020 and will remain in place until 12 January 2022, following changes and extensions in subsequent legislation. Landlords and tenants must follow certain steps to access these protections, see Rent arrears due to the financial impact of COVID-19.

In March 2020, a range of protections were put in place for people affected by the pandemic under the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020. The rental protections during this initial emergency period ran from 27 March to 1 August 2020 and included a ban on eviction notices and rent increases. These protections still have an effect on notice periods and the calculation of Part 4 tenancies.

Rent increases in Rent Pressure Zones

Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) are areas where rents are highest and rising quickly. An area must meet certain criteria to become an RPZ. In these areas annual rent increases are capped. RPZs were introduced on 24 December 2016. See below for the list of areas that are Rent Pressure Zones.

The RPZ system was changed on 16 July 2021 and annual rent increases in RPZs are capped in line with general inflation. Previously, rent increases in RPZs were capped at 4% per year. RPZs were also extended until 31 December 2024. They were due to expire on 1 January 2022. These changes came in under the Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021.

The RTB has information on general inflation, also known as the Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (HICP), and how it relates to RPZs.

Rent Pressure Zones

The following local authority areas and local electoral areas (LEAs) were designated Rent Pressure Zones when they matched the RPZ criteria on the dates below:

29 September 2020

  • Kildare County Council

16 July 2020

  • Bandon - Kinsale LEA, Co Cork

22 April 2020

  • Mallow LEA, Co Cork
  • Killarney LEA, Co Kerry
  • Athy LEA, Co Kildare
  • Tullamore LEA, Co Offaly
  • Mullingar LEA, Co Westmeath

18 December 2019

  • Cobh LEA, Co Cork
  • Piltown LEA, Co Kilkenny
  • Sligo-Strandhill LEA, Co Sligo
  • Baltinglass LEA, Co Wicklow

26 September 2019

  • Carlow LEA, Co Carlow
  • Macroom LEA, Co Cork

2 July 2019

  • Fermoy LEA, Co Cork
  • Midleton LEA, Co Cork
  • Athenry-Oranmore LEA, Co Galway
  • Gort-Kinvara LEA, Co Galway
  • Kilkenny LEA, Co Kilkenny
  • Portlaoise LEA, Co Laois
  • Graiguecullen-Portarlington LEA, Co Laois
  • Limerick City West LEA, Co Limerick
  • Limerick City North LEA, Co Limerick
  • Dundalk-Carlingford LEA, Co Louth
  • Dundalk South LEA, Co Louth
  • Ardee LEA, Co Louth
  • Kells LEA, Co Meath
  • Trim LEA, Co Meath
  • Waterford City South LEA, Co Waterford
  • Waterford City East LEA, Co Waterford
  • Athlone LEA, Co Westmeath
  • Gorey LEA, Co Wexford
  • Arklow LEA, Co Wicklow

28 March 2019

  • Navan LEA, Co Meath
  • Limerick City East LEA, Co Limerick

22 September 2017

  • Greystones LEA, Co Wicklow
  • Drogheda LEA, Co Louth

24 March 2017

  • Cobh LEA, Co Cork
  • Maynooth LEA, Co Kildare

27 January 2017

  • Ballincollig–Carrigaline LEA, Co Cork
  • Galway City Central LEA, Co Galway
  • Galway City East LEA, Co Galway
  • Galway City West LEA, Co Galway
  • Naas LEA, Co Kildare
  • Newbridge LEA, Co Kildare
  • Celbridge-Leixlip LEA, Co Kildare
  • Ashbourne LEA, Co Meath
  • Laytown-Bettystown LEA, Co Meath
  • Ratoath LEA, Co Meath
  • Bray LEA, Co Wicklow
  • Wicklow LEA, Co Wicklow

24 December 2016

  • Dublin City Council
  • South Dublin County Council
  • Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council
  • Fingal County Council
  • Cork City Council

There is more information about Rent Pressure Zones and other measures on onestopshop.rtb.ie.

Rent increases outside Rent Pressure Zones

Under 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 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.

Rent reviews

A tenant or a landlord can request a rent review. A rent review can result in an increase or reduction in the rent. Rent Pressure Zones and areas outside Rent Pressure Zones have different rules for rent reviews.

Rent reviews in Rent Pressure Zones

Rent increases in Rent Pressure Zones are capped and there are limits on how often the rent can be reviewed. There are different rules about the limits and frequency of rent reviews depending on if the tenancy in the Rent Pressure Zone is an existing or new tenancy.

Rent reviews for a new tenancy in an RPZ

For a new tenancy in a Rent Pressure Zone, the landlord can review the rent once every 12 months. The landlord must give the tenant the following information, in writing, at the start of the tenancy:

  • The amount of rent that was last set for the property
  • The date the rent was last set for the property
  • A statement as to how the rent set for the property has been calculated, having regard to the Rent Pressure Zone calculator

The rent being set should not be more than local market rents for similar properties

Rent reviews for an existing tenancy in an RPZ

If a tenancy is already in existence when an area becomes a Rent Pressure Zone, the first rent reviewcan take place 24 months after either of the following:

  • The start of the tenancy
  • The date you were notified in writing of your last review

Subsequent rent reviews can take place after 12 months and must adhere to the RPZ rules.

Exceptions to rent limits in an RPZ

There are 3 exceptions to the rent limits applied in Rent Pressure Zones:

  1. Properties that have not been let at any time in the previous 2 years
  2. Properties in protected structures or proposed protected structures that have not been let in the previous year
  3. Properties that have been substantially changed. (A ‘substantial change’ in this situation is defined in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019. The RTB website has details of the types of substantial change required).

Even if a property qualifies for one of these exemptions, the new rent set must still be in line with market rent for similar properties in the area.

If a landlord wants to get an exemption from rent limits in an RPZ area they must notify the RTB within 1 month of setting the rent by completing the RTB’s RPZ Exemption Form.

The RTB can investigate and sanction landlords who do not comply with RPZ rules. There are penalties for landlords who do not follow rent increase limits in RPZs, provide false information about an exemption in an RPZ area or do not notify the RTB about availing of an exemption.

Rent reviews outside of Rent Pressure Zones

Your rent cannot be reviewed 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. This rent certainty measure is in place until 31 December 2024.

When the 24-month period is over your landlord must give you at least 90 days’ notice of a change in rent. This written notice must state the amount of the new rent and date the new rent will take effect.

Your landlord cannot charge more than 'market rent' which is the going rate for your type of accommodation in the area you live.

Calculating allowable rent increases

You can use the RTB’s calculator to check if your property is in a Rent Pressure Zone and to work out if 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 former RPZ calculator, which was used until 15 July 2021, is still available for reference.

Notice of rent review

Once the required period (12 or 24 months) has elapsed, your landlord can issue a notice of rent review.

The landlord must give you proper notice of the amount of the proposed new rent and the date from which it is to take effect. Landlords must use the RTB’s Notice of Rent Review Form when issuing a rent review. Landlords should fill out the sections of the form that are relevant to them and should not delete or change any of the form. Other forms, emails, text messages and spoken messages are not valid forms of notice.

You must get at least 90 days’ notice of a rent review. This means that the new rent cannot then apply until 90 days after the notice has been issued.

The landlord must also notify the RTB of the revised rent so that it can update the registration details of the tenancy.

For more information about the new notice of rent review form and how to fill it out, see the RTB’s website.

Tenants requesting a rent review

As a tenant, you can ask your landlord to review the rent if:

  • You think it is more than the current market rate for the property or
  • You want a new review and more than 24 months have passed

If your landlord is raising the rent

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.

Protecting your tenancy

You can contact Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service on 1800 454 454 for general support, advice and advocacy around protecting your tenancy.

If you are getting (or applying for) Rent Supplement, 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 Tenancy Protection Service can help you in making an application.

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, Cork city and environs, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Contact the Tenancy Protection Service on 1800 454 454.

Disputes about rent increases

The RTB deals with disputes between landlords and tenants about rent increases. There are 2 stages to the RTB’s dispute resolution process. Stage 1 is confidential mediation or adjudication and Stage 2 is an appeal of the mediator’s or adjudicator’s decision, which is a public hearing by a 3-person Tenancy Tribunal. For more information see our document resolving disputes between landlords and tenants.

The RTB can also investigate and sanction landlords who do not comply with RPZ rules. See the RTB’s website for more information about what can be investigated and how to make a complaint.


Useful contacts

Threshold

21 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7
Ireland

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel: 1800 454 454
Fax: (01) 677 2407

Threshold

Dublin Outreach Clinic
Co. Council Office
Grove Road
Blanchardstown
Co. Dublin

Opening Hours: Tuesday 2pm - 5pm
Tel: (01) 635 3651

Threshold

22 South Mall
Cork
Ireland

Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
Tel: (021) 427 8848
Fax: (021) 480 5111

Threshold

5 Prospect Hill
Galway
Ireland
H91 HC1H

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30 am - 5 pm
Tel: (091) 563 080
Fax: (091) 569 273

Tenancy Protection Service (Threshold)

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm
Locall: 1800 454 454

Residential Tenancies Board

PO Box 47
Clonakilty
Co. Cork
Ireland

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Tel: 0818 303 037 or 01 702 8100
Fax: 0818 303 039


Page edited: 20 July 2021