Updated: 17/04/18 : 07:51:33
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Sligo rip-off landlords set to be exposed

A rent register showing the average price in Sligo and the region is to be introduced in a bid to expose rip-off landlords.

The proposal involves the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) compiling a list of rents in an apartment block or group of streets across Ireland and publishing the average price.

It is part of a series of measures to be considered by the Cabinet today, including the extension of minimum notice periods that landlords must give tenants from 42 days to four months.

Independent.ie reports that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will produce the general scheme of legislation to underpin widespread change in the rental sector aimed at dampening price hikes.

According to the RTB, in the final quarter of 2017 the national average rent for new tenancies was €1,054 per month, up from €990 one year earlier. In Dublin the average rent stood at €1,511.

Central to a set of actions to be put forward by the minister today will be "rent transparency".

The Irish Independent understands he is seeking legal advice from the Attorney General and Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) on a rent register.

The RTB already gathers information on rents payable in towns around the country - but the minister wants to narrow this detail down to specific estates, apartment blocks or streets.

"This would allow renters to assess prevailing rent levels in an area, as well as the previous rent paid," a source said.

"Transparency is necessary to protect people from being ripped off, but we have to balance that with privacy rights, and the Data Protection Commissioner will advise on that."

Also included in the plan being brought to Cabinet today is a proposal to make it a criminal offence for landlords to implement increases that contravene the rules around 'Rent Pressure Zones' (RPZs).

RPZs limit the increases landlords can apply to 4pc per annum.

Mr Murphy also wants to allow the RTB to initiate an investigation without the need for a complaint to be made. The burden will no longer be on the tenant. And in a move that is likely to be opposed by landlords' organisations, the minister has plans to increase the minimum notice periods that must be given before a tenant has to vacate a property.

The legislation proposes the following notice periods:

28 days for those tenancies up to six months (no change);

90 days for those more than six months but less than one year (previously 35 days);

120 days for those one year or more but less than two years (previously 42 days);

120 days for those two years or more but less than three years (previously 56 days);

120 days for those three years or more but less than four years (previously 84 days);

120 days for those four year or more but less than five years (previously 112 days).

These timelines are broadly in line with proposals put forward in a Social Democrats' Private Members Bill in January.

Mr Murphy is likely to be in the firing line when the Dáil returns today after its Easter break.

Over the weekend he was described as "elitist" by Fianna Fáil's new housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien, who warned he intends to "flex his muscles" in his new role.