Landlords who rent to social housing tenants will from today be entitled to enhanced tax reliefs.
The new scheme will allow property owners who rent to tenants in receipt of rent supplement or the housing assistance payment (HAP) to claim 100 per cent relief on their mortgage interest, as an expense against rental income.
It will also be available to landlords who participate in the rental accommodation scheme (RAS).
The new rate compares with 75 per cent relief available up to now, a rate long criticised by landlords as too low and a disincentive to remain as a landlord.
To qualify, the accommodation must be available to social tenants for a minimum of three years and must be registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).
Although the measure was included in the Finance Act and has been in effect since January 1st, the Revenue Commissioners has just begun implementing it. It will be backdated to January 1st.
The increased relief will be provided to the landlord retrospectively at the end of the three-year period. In some cases it may be necessary for the landlord to apply for certification confirming they met the terms of the scheme.
The move is to encourage landlords to let to social tenants who in many cases, particularly in areas of high demand for rental homes, find it almost impossible to find landlords who will accept rent allowance or HAP.
In addition the vast majority of families becoming homeless are social tenants from the private rented sector, who then find it impossible to find alternative accommodation, both because the rents far exceed their housing support payment, and because landlords want private tenants.
Also effective from today is a free mediation service from the PRTB to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Currently applicants must pay €25 for the service, or €15 if they apply online. If the respondent however does not agree to mediation the dispute will have to go to adjudication and the applicant must pay the charge.
It is hoped the removal of the fee will encourage more people to seek mediation in the first instance. Currently just 20 per cent of applicants in dispute seek mediation as a first step towards resolution.
The board has found that those who reach an agreement through mediation are more willing to abide by it.