The old media is today claiming that the new residential rent index from the Private Residential Tenancies Board provides for the first time an index of actual rents rather than the asking rents that Daft.ie tracks. That claim is rubbish, as the CSO incorporates private rents in its monthly inflation figures, and the source for their figures, are estate agents across the country providing actual rents. Apparently the PRTB index will support the findings of the CSO index and confirms residential rents are up modestly over the past year, 2% according to the old media which is in line with the 3.4% increase in the CSO index.
The PRTB index is not yet online but it should be available here later today. It has been produced with the ESRI – no, don’t groan – and in the near future, not today, the CSO will provide a facility whereby you can look at types of property is all parts of the country, so if you want to see what a two-bedroom apartment costs in Athlone, you’ll be provided with averages and an index to indicate if prices are increasing or decreasing.
“This is all great” I hear you say, so why are we being shortchanged?
It recently emerged in the Dail that the PRTB had provided the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton with a complete listing of ALL residential property rented in the country including address and rent amount. The listing did not contain the name of the landlord and tenant, and apparently in this way, according to Minister Burton, no data protection laws were broken.
The Opposition tried to get hold of the database, but was told that the information had been provided by the PRTB to the Department of Social Protection pursuant to Section 146 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and Section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. Minister Burton suggested to the Opposition that they might contact the PRTB themselves for the data, but because the Opposition is not the Minister or a Local Authority and therefore can’t rely on the 2004 Act, they’re not likely to be successful.
So, perhaps today, we will get a small additional chink of light refracted through the dubious lens of the ESRI, but there is no data protection impediment to getting the full listing of addresses with rents, so that you would have true transparency. If you can see what a particular property sells for on the Property Price Register, why can’t you see its rent.
The parliamentary questions and responses seeking the underlying data are here:
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 586 of 16 April, 2013, if she will make available the file of data received from the Private Residential Tenancies Board, data which she says does not give rise to data protection implications, but which presumably provides addresses, details of accommodation and rent costs.
Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton: As part of the review of rent limits, the Department has received information from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) from its register of tenancies. This data exchange is provided for by legislation under Section 146 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and Section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. The data snapshot provided contains details of registered tenancies and does not contain names of tenants or landlords.
There are no data protection implications from the use of this information by this Department. However, the data provided to the Department remains the property of the PRTB. If the Deputy wishes to access such data he should contact the PRTB directly.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 136 and 144 on 21 March 2013, in which she stated she had obtained data from the Private Residential Tenancies Board including a snapshot of the PRTB’s database which stores all annual rental values and relevant addresses, if she will confirm the way accessing such information was permitted in the context of data protection legislation
Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton: The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 86,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided €403 million for 2013.
As part of the review of rent limits, the Department received information from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) from its register of tenancies. This data exchange is provided for by legislation under Section 146 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and Section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. The data snapshot provided contains details of registered tenancies and does not contain names of tenants or landlords. There are no data protection implications from the use of this information.