Rent increases in private rented housing
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:
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2004
- The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015
- The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016
- The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019
- The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2020
These rules 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 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.
Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019, student-specific accommodation comes under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). This provision applies to student tenancies entered into after 15 August 2019. It means that these student tenancies are covered by residential tenancies legislation and these tenants will 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. This means that tenants cannot be evicted when 5km restrictions are in place from 31 December 2020 to 12 April 2021 and for a ten-day grace period after this. Under this legislation evictions can take place in limited circumstances, for example, for anti-social behaviour. Any time these protections are in operation they have an ongoing effect on notice periods and the calculation of Part 4 tenancies. You can read more about this in our document Renting and COVID-19.5
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 now run until 12 July 2021, following changes and extensions brought in under 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 our document Renting and 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
The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 brought in a Rent Predictability Measure, to cap rent increases at 4% per year in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs). This measure came into effect from 24 December 2016.
RPZs are areas where rents are highest and rising quickly. An area must meet certain criteria to become an RPZ. The following areas 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, Co Cork
22 April 2020
- Mallow, Co Cork
- Killarney, Co Kerry
- Athy, Co Kildare
- Tullamore, Co Offaly
- Mullingar, Co Westmeath
18 December 2019
- Cobh (to include Watergrasshill), Co Cork
- Piltown, Co Kilkenny
- Strandhill, Co Sligo
- Baltinglass, Co Wicklow
26 September 2019
- Carlow, Co Carlow
- Macroom, Co Cork
2 July 2019
- Fermoy, Co Cork
- Midleton, Co Cork
- Athenry-Oranmore, Co Galway
- Gort-Kinvara, Co Galway
- Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny
- Portlaoise, Co Laois
- Graiguecullen-Portarlington, Co Laois
- Limerick City West, Co Limerick
- Limerick City North, Co Limerick
- Dundalk-Carlingford, Co Louth
- Dundalk South, Co Louth
- Ardee, Co Louth
- Kells, Co Meath
- Trim, Co Meath
- Waterford City South, Co Waterford
- Waterford City East, Co Waterford
- Athlone, Co Westmeath
- Gorey, Co Wexford
- Arklow, Co Wicklow
28 March 2019
- Navan, Co Meath
- Limerick City East, Co Limerick
22 September 2017
- Greystones, Co Wicklow
- Drogheda, Co Louth
24 March 2017
- Cobh, Co Cork
- Maynooth, Co Kildare
27 January 2017
- Ballincollig–Carrigaline, Co Cork
- Galway City Council
- Galway City East
- Galway City West
- Naas, Co Kildare
- Newbridge, Co Kildare
- Celbridge-Leixlip, Co Kildare
- Ashbourne, Co Meath
- Laytown-Bettystown, Co Meath
- Ratoath, Co Meath
- Bray, Co Wicklow
- Wicklow, Co Wicklow
24 December 2016
- Dublin City Council
- South Dublin County Council
- Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council
- Fingal County Council
- Cork City Council
Designated Rent Pressure Zones will remain in place until 31 December 2021.
The criteria for assessing Rent Pressure Zones changed under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019, with effect from 4 June 2019. You can find more information about the new RPZ criteria on the RTB’s website.
There is more information about Rent Pressure Zones and other measures on onestopshop.rtb.ie.
Rent increases outside Rent Pressure Zones
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.
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 (starting on or after 24 December 2016) in a Rent Pressure Zone, the landlord can review 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:
- 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 formula
The rent being set should not be more than local market rents for similar properties
Rent reviews for an existing tenancy in an RPZ
In existing tenancies (starting before 24 December 2016) in a Rent Pressure Zone the first rent review can take place after 24 months from the start of the tenancy or from the date you were notified in writing of your last review. The maximum rent increase is 2% per year since the previous rent was set. So, if the rent is reviewed after the minimum 24-month period, the maximum rent increase is 4%. If more time has passed since the previous rent was set, the maximum rent increase is higher (2% per additional year up until 2016). 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:
- Properties that have not been let at any time in the previous 2 years
- Properties in protected structures or proposed protected structures that have not been let in the previous year
- 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.
Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 there are sanctions 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 2021.
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 RTB has published examples (pdf) of how the calculations work.
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. From 1 July 2019, 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.
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.
The RTB deals with disputes between landlords and tenants. 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.
Fees for applying to the RTB are:
|Dispute resolution by mediation||No charge||No charge|
|Dispute resolution by adjudication||€15||€25|