Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has acknowledged that the language in letters sent by some local authorities to Rental Accommodation Scheme tenants was unhelpful and over the top.

Minister Kelly said that his Department would contact local authorities.

He said the department would ensure a coordinated and consistent approach is taken when communicating with RAS tenants concerning Irish Water obligations.

Minister Kelly added that it is important tenants are made aware of their obligations without raising concerns unnecessarily.

He also noted that the issue of registration and payment of water charges is a matter between the tenant and Irish Water.

The statement also pointed out that RAS tenants are no different to any other local authority or private tenants.

Earlier, Sinn Féin labelled the decision to send letters to all RAS tenants letters that say they could face eviction if they do not pay their water charges as a "bullyboy tactic".

Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady has said tenants in Wicklow on the RAS feel threatened by the letters and have contacted him, frightened about the threat of eviction.

The Wicklow councillor called on Tánaiste Joan Burton to issue an apology for allowing the letters to be sent.

The letter referred to the Tenants' Obligations to the Landlord in the Residential Tenancy Agreement.

It stated: "The tenant must pay all rates relating to the property, including any which are imposed after the date of the agreement."

The letter said if tenants fail to comply with an obligation under the terms of the agreement, then they may be held to be in breach of tenancy.

The Department of the Environment has said the letters are reminders to RAS tenants about their obligations for payment of utilities, such as gas, electricity, and now water.

The decision to send the letters was raised in the Dáil yesterday by Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Brady said: "I think it is an intimidating letter, bullyboy tactics being employed here. It follows on from other bullyboy tactics that have been engaged.

"We had comments from Enda Kenny back in May saying that people's water pressure would be reduced if they did not pay their water charges.

"And this letter now follows on from that.

"A threatening letter telling people effectively that the roof will be removed over their families' heads if they are not in a position basically to pay for water charges."

Fintan McNamara of the Residential Landlords Association has said landlords should not have to assist Irish Water to track down tenants who have not paid their water charges. 

Speaking the same programme, Mr McNamara said that landlords have no role in paying the charges.

He said: "Irish Water has said to us clearly that the landlord has no role in paying the charges. He cannot supply, register the tenants.

"In this instance, landlords would not be registering the tenants. So in this instance, it will be up to the tenants.

"And Irish Water said if tenants don't register they will pursue them in the same way the ESB and Bord Gáis pursue people who don't pay utility bills."