Karen Walsh: Follow the rules if you want to raise the rent

New rent procedures came into effect on December 4, 2015, for private tenancies.

Dear Karen,

I am renting a cottage on my farm, and I want to increase the rent the tenant is paying.

I heard that there were new provisions in relation to this, and I want to comply with my obligations as a landlord, in effecting the new rent.

What is your advice?

What procedures must I abide by?

Dear Reader,

First and foremost, thank you for your query.

You have not mentioned the commencement date of the tenancy or when, if at all, the rent was last reviewed.

As a result, you would need to give me more information, in order to give you specific advice in relation to your particular set of circumstances.

I have outlined here some general advices in relation to your query.

The amount of rent payable for a property is agreed between the landlord and tenant at the start of a tenancy.

There have been much-publicised changes in relation to procedures landlords must follow if they want to raise the rent.

These came into effect on December 4, 2015, for private tenancies.

The rules are set out in Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, and have recently been amended by the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

The following are some of the changes:

* The length of time between rent reviews was extended from 12 months to 24 months.

The restriction is temporary, in that it applies until December 3, 2019, when rent reviews may once again be conducted once every 12 months.

The extended restriction is also retrospective, in that it applies not just to new, but to all existing tenancies.

For existing tenancies, the two-year period for the first rent review since the introduction of the extended restriction, is counted from the later of:

(i) the commencement of the tenancy (where no rent review had taken place prior to December 4, 2015), and

(ii) the most recent rent review date.

The extent of the initial reprieve afforded to tenants, and the initial restriction on landlords, under the act, will therefore depend on when the tenancy was entered into, and on the date of the most recent rent review.

* A landlord reviewing the rent must now give a tenant at least 90 days’ written notification (increased from 28 days).

* Since May 9, 2016, a notice of new rent must contain certain information. The notice of new rent must comply with the provisions of Section 26 of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

The notice must:

— State the amount of new rent and the date from which is to have effect;

— Include a statement that any dispute about the setting of the rent must be referred to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) before the date the new rent takes effect, or within 28 days from the date that the tenant gets the notice, whichever is the later;

— Include a statement by the landlord that, in their opinion, the new rent is not greater than the market rent, having regard to the other terms of the tenancy and to letting values of dwellings of a similar size, type and character and situated in a comparable area;

— Specify the rent amount being asked for three dwellings of a similar size, type and character and in a comparable area, which have been advertised for rent in the four-week period immediately before the notice;

— Be signed by the landlord or their authorised agent, and include the date on which it was signed.

Under Section 19 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, landlords cannot charge more than the open market rate of rent. 

In the event of a dispute, the RTB deals with disputes between landlords and tenants, including disputes about rent reviews.

The new rent review provisions contained in the act were enacted to control the rapidly rising cost of rented accommodation, a dominant social and political issue across the country at present.

It is very much a case of wait and see as to whether the new legislative provisions will achieve what they were envisaged to do.

Karen Walsh, from a farming background at Grenagh, Co Cork, is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths, 17, South Mall, Cork.

Telephone: 021-4270200 

Email: info@walshandpartners.ie 

Web: www.walshandpartners.ie 

While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information contained in this article, solicitor Karen Walsh does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising, and you should seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances at the earliest possible time.


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