Sunday 26 March 2023

Landlords face high fines for overcharging tenants under new rental rules


Landlords who charge more than the legally allowed maximum for rent controlled properties face a fine of up to €90,000 for repeated offences if draft legislation drawn up by housing minister Hugo de Jonge is approved by parliament later this year.

The high fines are included in De Jonge’s plans to extend rent controls to property worth up to 187 points in the points-based rental system. The current limit is 142 points.

The new upper limit would fix maximum rents for some properties at around €1,000 per month, at today’s prices, but will only apply to new contracts. Tenants would have six months to appeal to a rent tribunal if they feel they are being charged too much.

Points are awarded on the basis of size, amenities, energy efficiency and luxury items such as designer taps or radiators and bathroom tiling.

‘Tenants often have no choice, but an increasing number of homes are unattainable for people on average incomes,’ De Jonge said. Average incomes are said to range from €40,000 to €56,000 a year and only people earning under roughly €40,000 qualify for social housing.

Good news

Housing activists want the minister to regulate all rental housing, arguing that more homes will end up in the non-regulated sector. Landlords and developers, however, have warned the restrictions will lead to delays or sales of rental housing.

Broadcaster NOS quotes De Jonge as saying it would be ‘good news’ if some landlords decided to sell because more affordable owner occupied housing would then come onto the market. And that, he said, will benefit police officers, teachers and nurses who are currently unable to buy.

MPs are due to debate the plans after the summer break.

More controls

Earlier this month De Jonge published plans which will require every local authority in the country to make sure 30% of all housing in their area is social housing.

The proposal is one of a package of measures aimed at giving central government more say in residential property development, in an effort to ensure that 900,000 new homes are built by 2030.

The legislation will give central government more control over allocating building land and to force local authorities to act if they fail to reach agreements. It also seeks to ensure two-thirds of new housing is classed as affordable – either rent controlled, mid-market rentals (up to around €1,100 per month) or for sale at affordable prices.

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