Housing Minister wants shift to longer-term rental leases

Eoghan Murphy plans to being Bill to Cabinet designed to boost residential tenants’ rights

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy with Brian Moran, senior managing director with Hines (right), and Paul van Stiphout, senior portfolio manager at APG Asset Management, at the announcement of the construction of  new apartments at Cherrywood town centre in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy with Brian Moran, senior managing director with Hines (right), and Paul van Stiphout, senior portfolio manager at APG Asset Management, at the announcement of the construction of new apartments at Cherrywood town centre in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

It seems strange that in a country where long leases – sometimes 99 years or more – were not unusual, that many now worry about short lets in the residential sector.

Oisín Smyth, chairman of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, on Monday argued that we regarded renting a home as a staging post to ownership, something nobody does for very long.

As a result, 12-month terms are more the rule when people rent, something the Green Party councillor argues fails to take a modern trend for longer-term renting into account or gives tenants any real security.

Smyth was speaking after US developer Hines and its Dutch pension fund backer APG Asset Management announced plans to build 3,000 apartments for rent in Dublin.

The pair will own the dwellings and rent them out, giving what they hope will be a stable return. As this becomes an increasingly common element of the Republic’s housing market, Smyth and others want to see more incentives to encourage landlords and tenants to agree longer-term leases.

The Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, agrees. He will bring a Bill to Cabinet on Tuesday that is designed to boost residential tenants’ rights. The Minister would like to see a shift to longer leases, and is weighing what sort of incentives might be needed to bring this about.

It is, he says, already happening of its own accord, but clearly Murphy would like to give the market a nudge to move this process along. His remarks also indicate that he feels that incentives are a better way of achieving this than legislation.

As there is nothing in the Republic’s landlord and tenant laws to prevent people agreeing leases longer than a year in the first place, legislation hardly seems needed. What is needed is a shift in the mindset that sees renting as short term. Given that they are looking for long-term returns, institutional landlords such as Hines and APG could be the ones to bring that about.

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