The Residential Landlords Association is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to talk about the water charge issue and who will be liable for water bills.
Spokesperson Fintan McNamara has said its members are not in the business of “snitching on tenants” in relation to unpaid water bills, saying it is a matter between Irish Water and tenants.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said if landlords are contacted by Irish Water about unpaid bills, they will tell the company that they are not the ones residing in the premises and “direct them” to the occupier.
Asked if this meant landlords will tell Irish Water who tenants are, Mr McNamara said it will be up to each individual landlord to manage their own business in their own way.
He said landlords were not in favour of using tenant deposits to pay unpaid water charges.
Mr McNamara also said his members are concerned that they will become debt collectors, which they do not want to do.
Landlords wanted “no hand, act or part in this”, he said, and want utility companies to deal directly with tenants.
Rents would rise further if landlords had to pay bills, he added.
He said: “Many tenants anyway will register, some won’t and I think it’s going to take years for this to bed down because it’s been handled so badly.
“The only effective way of enforcing it, in my view, is to bite the bullet if people are not paying for a utility and cut off the service.
“The thing is I think a lot of people are going to get away with it.”
He added that there are 750,000 tenants in private rented accommodation.
If 10% of them take a principled opposition to this, he said, there could be 70,000 disputes going to the Private Residential Tenancies Board in relation to deposits, which he said would be a nightmare scenario.