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Renters will soon be able to find out how much previous tenants charged

Renters will be able to know what a previous tenant was paying for a room under laws to be brought to Cabinet next week.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has indicated he can overcome legal challenges to set up a ‘rent register’.

It would allow people looking to rent a room see the average prices in a certain location.

The move is among a suite of measures aimed at clamping down on unscrupulous landlords who are taking advantage of loopholes in the current system.

Mr Murphy also plans to introduce fines for landlords who breach the limitations imposed by the ‘Rent Pressure Zones’ (RPZs).

Prices in the RPZs cannot be hiked by more than 4pc in a year but there is anecdotal evidence that the restriction is being flouted. A figure of €15,000 has been suggested as a suitable fine for a landlord who pushes up rent by a larger amount. And the minister is to double the notice period for tenants facing eviction.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Murphy said he wants to “better enforce rent caps” and allow the Residential Tenancies Board to actively investigate issues in the market.

Currently the RTB has to receive a complaint about a landlord before a inspectors can investigate.

“I absolutely support rent transparency. And I believe that rent transparency does mean a rent register and I see no reason why we can’t do it like with the property price register,” Mr Murphy said.

“I have put it to the Attorney General that this is what we want to incorporate in our legislation in terms of making people understand what fair rent is meant to be and they can see quite clearly whether their rights are being breached.”

He launched housing charity Threshold’s annual report yesterday which showed the body received 75,526 calls last year, and a third were from tenants faced with losing their homes.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came under attack for the Government’s performance on housing.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government had failed to help renters but given tax breaks to landlords. “It’s time for you to admit that your attempts to control rents have categorically failed,” she said.

The Taoiseach said it was wrong to “demonise” landlords. “We do actually need landlords in this country,” he said.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

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