I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the housing market in Ireland is currently not in the greatest of health. I know this may come as a shock, and for that, I am sorry.
With house and rental prices rapidly escalating, to levels surpassing their 2008 peaks - ya know, during the time that immediately preceded Ireland's entire economy collapsing having been overly reliant on an artificially inflated housing market - it's no wonder that civic protests have been growing in volume and vehemence recently.
Movements like Take Back The City - which have organised large-scale marches as well as occupations of vacant residential buildings to highlight the endemic issues surrounding affordable housing and consequently the escalating homelessness crisis engendered by this state of affairs - are seeking to force the government's hand in tackling these issues. While much has been promised by successive Fine Gael governments in terms of redressing the massive shortfalls in the construction of social housing, the number of houses actually built has consistently fallen well short of stated targets. In conjunction to this there has been a reticence to take aggressive measures to curb exploitative practices by landlords, or to implement strict rental ceilings in areas that have seen massively disproportionate surges in prices - ie. throughout the country.
A cap was introduced a number of years ago for some rental zones where it was forbidden for landlords to raise a current tenants rent by more than 4% per year. However these rules were often circumvented by various loopholes such as with student accommodation which, until legislation was passed over the summer to prevent this, counted each year's in-take as new tenets and were thus able to increase rents by whatever margin they decided. However, some landlords did not seek to find legal loopholes to justify raising rents beyond the allowed margin.
As such, in a long-overdue effort to attempt to help the situation, Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing and Planning has announced stricter punitive measures against landlords who break this rental cap.
According to The Irish Times, Eoghan Murphy is seeking Cabinet approval for legislation which would increase the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board, affording them to issues fines and costs of up to €30,000 to private landlords who increase their rents beyond this 4% annual cap.
The measures would allow the RTB to investigate landlords who broke this limit and issue them with fines. It would also seek to add the tenancies register previous years rental prices for properties so that prospective tenants can see whether landlords complied with these rental limits.
While these measures are certainly a strong sign of intent to introduce stricter regulations on a runaway rental market, it will remain to be seen, until the measures are put into place affording the RTB these powers, whether they will be actively enforced to help curtail exploitative practices by landlords.