Thousands of tenants could be losing out on rent credit due to “unfair” landlord registration rule
Taxback.com are calling on the Government to abolish a rule which prevents private residential tenants from claiming the newly established rent credit if their landlord is not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
The tax experts are concerned that thousands of tenants could be losing out on the valuable rent credit because some landlords are flouting the rule around the registration of tenancies.
One of the conditions of the newly introduced rent credit – which is worth up to €500 a year for single people, and up to €1,000 a year for married couples and civil partners – is that in most cases, the tenancy must be registered with the RTB. However, as it is up to the landlord, rather than the tenant, to register a tenancy, through no fault of their own, a number of tenants are unfairly losing out on the rent credit. So far, just over 120,000 rent tax credit claims have been made by PAYE taxpayers. However, around 400,000 people are expected to be eligible for the rent credit.
Marian Ryan, consumer tax manager with Taxback.com commented,
“We’re aware of a number of tenants who have hit a wall when they tried to claim the rent credit – simply because their own landlord hasn’t registered the tenancy with the RTB. Tenants in such positions have their hands tied. A landlord who hasn’t registered a tenancy with the RTB could be receiving their rent in cash and so there may be no trace of that rent being paid, unless a receipt is being provided to the tenant, which may not always be the case. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, for a tenant to challenge such a landlord and request that the landlord registers the tenancy as in practice, the tenant could risk losing their rental accommodation if they do so. Given the huge shortage of rental accommodation in this country, this is a risk which many tenants simply cannot afford to take. It is unfair that the tenant is playing the fall guy for a situation that is entirely outside their control.”
Taxback.com is calling on the Government to put a system in place which would allow tenants to claim the rent credit, even if the tenancy isn’t registered.
Ms Ryan added,
“We realise that the Government needs to ensure that only those eligible for the rent credit are claiming it and that the rule around tenancy registration is possibly one way to achieve that. However, there must be some other way to ensure only those eligible for the rent credit are claiming it – without excluding those tenants whose landlords haven’t registered with the RTB. The cost of renting in this country continues to surge. Rents increased by 13.7pc and the average market rent nationwide now stands at €1,733 a month, according to the latest report by Daft.ie. This is huge money and these kind of rents put enormous financial pressures on renters. The €500 a year which individual renters can get back through the rent credit is just a drop in the ocean when rents are at this level but it will still help alleviate some of the financial pressure on tenants.”
To highlight why a tenant could easily run into difficulties claiming the rent credit where a landlord hasn’t registered a tenancy or is attempting to avoid paying tax on rental income, Taxback.com outlines some of the details which must be provided to Revenue in order for the rent credit to be claimed successfully. They include:
- the unique registration number assigned to the tenancy by the RTB (where applicable); the name, correspondence address (including Eircode), residence status and tax reference number of the landlord or property agent acting on the landlord’s behalf; and the unique reference number assigned to the property for Local Property Tax purposes. A landlord can provide this information to Revenue directly, rather than to the tenant, if the landlord chooses to do so. However, where a landlord refuses to provide either their tenant or Revenue with such information, the rent credit will be unable to be claimed.
- a copy of the rental agreement, or a statement of rent paid throughout the year, if Revenue requests such documentation in order to support a tenant’s claim for the rent tax credit. In some instances, Revenue can ask a landlord to provide copies of such documentation but this could prove difficult if Revenue does not have the correct contact details for a landlord.
Ms Ryan added:
“There are few exemptions to the tenancy registration rule – those renting ‘student digs’ or staying in accommodation that is let out under the rent-a-room scheme can claim the rent credit, even though such tenancies do not need to be registered with the RTB. For those renting private rented accommodation and on-campus and purpose-built student accommodation however, the tenancy must be registered for the tenant to be eligible for the rent credit. If the same registration exemption around student digs and the rent-a-room scheme could be applied to private rented accommodation, more tenants would be able to claim the rent credit.”
“We also believe that there should be an automatic requirement on landlords to provide the landlord-specific information required for the purposes of the rent credit to Revenue directly, rather than the onus being, for the most part, on the tenant to do so. Failure by the Government to introduce such an automatic requirement – as well as to remove the RTB registration rule – will see many people continue to unfairly miss out on the rent credit.”