Three towns that were identified as rent pressure zones in a report to Minister for Housing Simon Coveney were not included in the Government's extended rent cap scheme last week, it has emerged.

A report from the Housing Agency, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Maynooth, Greystones and Cobh were included on a list of 15 areas for proposed rent caps.

However, when additional criteria were applied under law by the Residential Tenancies Board, the three towns were excluded from the final list of 12 announced by Minister Coveney.

The special designation of "rent pressure zone" means that rents in those areas can only rise according to a prescribed formula, by 4% annually.

In its report the Housing Agency stated that there was "significant rental pressure" in the areas it had proposed, which included Maynooth, Greystones and Cobh.

But it noted that the electoral areas proposed to be prescribed as rent pressure zones may not meet the rental criteria when analysed by the Director of the Residential Tenancies board.

For an area to be designated a rent pressure zone, rents must be at a high level, and they must be rising quickly.

The annual rate of rent inflation in the area must have been 7% or more in four of the last six quarters, and average rent must be above the national average.

In the case of Maynooth and Greystones, the Residential Tenancies Board found that rents were running above the national average, however rent inflation was not above 7% in four of the last six quarters.

In the case of Cobh, none of the criteria was met.

The Department of Housing has pointed out that under the law the minister does not have discretion to designate any area as a "rent pressure zone" unless it meets the relevant criteria which were agreed by the Oireachtas.

The three electoral areas that were identified as rent pressure zones were: Ballincollig-Carrigaline, Co Cork; Galway City Central; Galway City East; Galweay City West; Celbridge-Leixlip, Co Kildare; Naas, Co Kildare; Kildare-Newbridge; Ashbourne, Co Meath; Laytown-Bettystown, Co Meath; Ratoath, Co Meath; Bray, Co Wicklow; Wicklow, Co Wicklow.