Thursday, 16 June 2022
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
242. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will consider expanding the rent pressure zone rules to the entire country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31483/22]
The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 introduced the Rent Predictability Measure to moderate rent increases in those parts of the country where rents are highest and rising fastest. The Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021 introduced measures in July 2021 to extend the operation of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) until the end of 2024 and prohibit any necessary rent increase in an RPZ from exceeding general inflation, as recorded by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP). The Act also provides that rent reviews outside of RPZs can, until 2025, occur no more frequently than bi-annually. This provides rent certainty for tenants outside of RPZs for a minimum 2 year period at a time.
To address the rent affordability challenges building on foot of the unexpectedly fast rising inflation rate, as recorded by HICP (CSO data for May 2022 shows HICP inflation of 8.3% p.a.), the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2021 was enacted to provide, from 11 December 2021, a cap of 2% per annum pro rata on rent increases in RPZs where the inflation rate is higher.
In all cases, section 19(1) of the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2021 prohibits the setting of a rent that exceeds market rent. Section 24A of the Acts provides that the Housing Agency, in consultation with housing authorities, may make a proposal to the Minister that an area should be considered as a RPZ. Following receipt of such a proposal, the Minister requests the Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to conduct an assessment of the area to establish whether or not it meets the criteria for designation and to report to the Minister on whether the area should be designated as a RPZ.
The criteria to be satisfied by an area under section 24A(4) of the Acts for designation as an RPZ are as follows:
- the information relating to the area, as determined by reference to the information used to compile each RTB Rent Index quarterly report, shows that the annual rate of increase in the average amount of rent for that area is more than 7% in each of at least 4 of the 6 quarters preceding the period immediately prior to the date of the Housing Agency's proposal, and
- the average rent for the area in the last quarter, as determined by reference to the information used to compile each RTB Rent Index quarterly report, is –
- in the case of counties Kildare, Meath and Wicklow or a local electoral area (LEA) in any one of those counties, above the average rent in the State, excluding rents in the 4 Dublin Local Authority areas, or
- in the case of any LEA outside of the Greater Dublin Area (i.e. Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow), above the average rent in the State excluding rents in the Greater Dublin Area.
Each RTB quarterly Rent Index Report includes a table of the data used to establish whether each LEA fulfils the criteria for designation as a RPZ. This ensures transparency in relation to the position of individual areas in terms of average rent levels and increases.
The Housing Agency and the RTB will continue to monitor national rents and if any area meets the designation criteria it will be designated as a RPZ.