The Government has agreed to the drafting of a Civil Debt Procedures Bill, which may see landlords being required to retain a tenant’s deposit until they have proof of payment of water charges.
The bill will include provisions to stop imprisoning people for not paying their general civil debts such as electricity and water charges.
Instead, attachment orders to wages and social welfare payments will be applied.
Under the new proposals brought to Cabinet by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, landlords may be required to retain a tenant’s deposit until they have proof of payment of water charges.
This role will later transfer to the Private Residential Tenancies Board.
All new tenancy agreements must also state that the occupier is liable to pay the water charges except in relation to short-term lets where the landlord may retain the responsibility.
There will also be an obligation on a property owner to confirm that water charges are paid, before a property sale can be completed.
The details of the new measures will be examined by the Opposition today, which has been critical of the proposals.
Fintan McNamara from the Residential Landlords Association has said the Government is making an outrageous imposition on landlords regarding new legislation relating to water charges.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr McNamara said it is going to be a huge problem, adding that it is unfair on both landlords and tenants.
He said the deposit will have to change and that three months deposit would be required.
“If this is to work effectively the deposit has to be trebled” to make allowances for issues like rent arrears.
He added that it looks like landlords will end up footing the water charge bill if tenants do not pay.
He said the ideal situation would be that each tenant have an account with which they deal directly with Irish Water and make their payments.
He said there is no need to make this process so complicated.
He said they will be meeting the minister again to see if they can change the course of action being taken.