“The rental market remains as dysfunctional as ever. Ever-rising costs (despite rent control measures), fewer properties and landlords leaving in droves, paints an unhappy place for accommodation seekers to find themselves.

According to the 2016 Census, there are around 500,000 tenants, up 4.7pc since 2011. Rented homes make up 30pc of all dwellings and is the most prominent tenure status in cities (36pc), overtaking home ownership for the first time. This week, I’m looking at the strengthened laws for renters, and what you can expect.

The Residential Tenancies Board (rtb.ie) handles disputes from landlords and tenants based on the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

It offers free mediation and decisions are binding. Most disputes are about deposits, squatting and rent increases. Its latest report shows a 20pc increase in complaints. A massive 92pc of cases found in favour of the tenant when it came to deposits being withheld, and an astonishing two in three rent review notices were found invalid. Meanwhile, €1.6m was awarded to landlords last year from non-paying tenants.

Strict rules exist about inventories of contents, fire/safety and minimum standards.

In reality though, tenants often put up with sub-standard or unregistered properties such is the market shortage. New legislation is due to allow spot checks based on anonymous tip-offs. Landlords must be registered with the RTB by law, and it’s advisable to keep a record of rent payments in case of dispute.”

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