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Handling Rent Reviews: Practical Advice

May 31, 2022

by

Amy Shorten
rent reviews ireland

The one thing we can be sure of in life is that nothing stays the same. And that includes rent prices. As of the time of writing, rent price levels are at all time highs in Ireland and is a major concern for all renters. Typically, a landlord will serve notice of a rent review on their tenant at least once every few years. These are almost a certainty as the market rate of rent is increasing rapidly.

However, these reviews can’t just happen on a whim. There are strict guidelines regarding when they can take place and how they should be carried out. And these guidelines vary depending on where in the country you live: either inside or outside a Rent Pressure Zone.

What is a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ)?

Certain areas are known for having much higher rent prices than others. In many cases, prices in these places are rising and people are struggling to find suitable and affordable properties to live in.

In 2016, Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) were introduced to help deal with this problem. At present, 6 entire local authority areas and 48 other local electoral areas are designated as RPZs (see full list here). The system is due to remain until 31st December 2024 at the earliest.

In an RPZ, rent prices cannot increase by more than the level of general inflation, as determined by the Harmonised Index of the Consumer Price (HICP). However, the increase is capped at 2%, even if HICP inflation is higher.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has a useful RPZ Calculator tool. You can use this to find out whether or not a property is within an RPZ. The calculator can also tell you the highest permitted rent increase for the property in question.

It’s important to note that there are some exemptions to the RPZ system. These include:

Properties that haven’t been rented for 2 years

Properties that are (or are part of) protected/proposed-protected structures and haven’t been rented for 12 months

Properties that have been substantially changed, for example, have had permanent extensions added

How do rent reviews work in Rent Pressure Zones?

In a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), a rent review can take place every 12 months. The RPZ guideline for rent increases must be followed unless an exemption has been granted.

If an area becomes an RPZ in the middle of a tenancy, slightly different time frames apply. Before serving a rent review, a landlord must wait either:

24 months from the start of the tenancy

OR

24 months from the last time they gave valid notice of a rent review to the tenant

After this, a rent review can happen every 12 months.

If you’re a landlord, skip down to discover the steps you need to take to implement a rent review.

To discover more about rent reviews in Rent Pressure Zones, please visit the RTB’s website.

How do rent reviews work outside Rent Pressure Zones?

Outside of Rent Pressure Zones, rent reviews can take place every 24 months.

The rent charged should not be more than the typical market rate. Landlords have a responsibility to find out the rent prices for three similar properties in a similar area. These figures should be communicated to the tenant (as part of the form described in Question 4) along with evidence such as newspaper advertisements. All such information should be from within the last 4 weeks.

Approved Housing Bodies have slightly different rules and the time frame for rent reviews should be stated in the tenancy agreement. You can read more about this on the RTB’s website.

I’m a landlord. How do I carry out a rent review?

Your first step is to download and read a copy of the Notice of Rent Review form. This is the document you’ll give your tenant to inform them you have reviewed the rent. It will include details about the new rate and tell them the date on which the change comes into effect.

When carrying out a rent review, give yourself plenty of time. The date on which the new rate is payable must be at least 90 days after the date you serve the notice.

The following steps should help you with the process (a similar checklist can be found on page 6 of the Notice of Rent Review form):

1.

Fill out the form and attach all necessary documentation. It’s important not to change anything about this form; make sure to use the template exactly as presented. If you make changes, it could invalidate the process.

2.

Serve the form on your tenant.

3.

Notify the RTB of the new rate of rent. You can do this using the RTB’s Tenancy Update form. This must be done within one month of the rent becoming payable.

4.

If you are in an RPZ and wish to use an exemption, make sure to notify the RTB using the RPZ Notice of Exemption form. This must be done within one month of the notice of rent review being served.

Make sure to follow all the steps laid out in the Notice of Rent Review form. Ignoring any of these (such as the RPZ rent increase restriction) could result in you committing an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act (2004). Further information on this can be found at the bottom of the Notice of Rent Review form.

I’m a tenant and I’ve been served a rent review. What should I do?

None of us like having to pay more for anything, and unfortunately in the current market rent reviews are inevitable. Threshold, Ireland’s housing charity, has compiled a list of steps you can take after you are served one. These include checking to make sure you received a valid notice and using recommended tools to calculate appropriate rent yourself.

If you have any concerns (for example, you think you are being charged above market rent), arrange a time to discuss the situation with your landlord.

If you and your landlord can’t agree, you can refer the matter to the RTB within 90 days of receiving the notice. Check out our article about landlord/tenant disputes for further advice. And if you fear you genuinely won’t be able to pay the new rate of rent, please get in touch with Threshold who will offer guidance and support.

I’m a tenant. How can I request a rent review?

As a tenant, it’s likely you will only want a rent review if you feel you’re being charged too much. You can contact your landlord to request one if

1.

You’re concerned that you’re paying more than the market rate;

OR

3.

More than 24 months have passed since the last review and you want a new one.

Ideally, clear communication and discussion are the best ways to approach any issue with your landlord. However, if an issue persists, the RTB can help with dispute resolution.

Where Can I Find Out More?

The RTB’s During a Tenancy section has plenty of information about Rent Pressure Zones and Rent Reviews. Citizens Information also provides some helpful content.

If you’re a tenant, make sure to visit the Threshold website for advice about how to manage rent increases.

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