Rent increases for tenants on the Westmeath side of Athlone have been capped at 4% per year in a bid to curb the recent dramatic rise in housing costs.
The Athlone local electoral area in Westmeath - which includes the east and west sides of the town centre, as well as communities such as Moydrum, Castledaly and Glasson - was one of 19 new areas that were added to the national list of Rent Pressure Zones last week (Tuesday, July 2).
The measure was taken after average rents across the whole of county Westmeath rose by a whopping 13.3% during the twelve month period up to the end of March.
However the parts of Athlone that are in county Roscommon, including popular residential areas such as Monksland and Bealnamulla, have not been included in the new Rent Pressure Zone designation.
The rent pressure zone announcement was made on the same day it came into effect, in order to prevent landlords from imposing large rent hikes before the measure came into force.
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) says rents for new and existing tenancies within the Rent Pressure Zone cannot be increased by more than 4% per annum.
The only exemptions are in cases where a property was not rented for at least two years prior to the start of a tenancy, or in cases where a property has undergone "a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation".
The RTB stated that the standardised average rent in the Athlone local electoral area was now €842.20, and that average rents in the area had risen by at least 7% in four out of the last six quarterly periods.
While county Roscommon is not part of a designated Rent Pressure Zone, the RTB's figures showed that rents in the county had seen the biggest proportional increase in the country between March 2018 and March 2019.
During that 12-month period, rents in county Roscommon went up by 14.8%, to reach a standardised average rent of €619.
Many tenants will welcome the introduction of rent pressure zone status in Athlone and other areas, but the Irish Property Owners Association described the rent controls as blunt instruments which disadvantage landlords who reward good tenants by keeping rents low.