Election 2020: FF decides against rent freeze on ‘legal advice’

Party to review pressure zones and publish advice that proposal would be unconstitutional

Fianna Fáil says it will prevent so-called cuckoo funds from buying up entire developments. Photograph: Getty

Fianna Fáil says it will prevent so-called cuckoo funds from buying up entire developments. Photograph: Getty


Fianna Fáil says it has decided against implementing a rent freeze if elected after legal advice stated that such a proposal would be “unconstitutional”.

The party’s housing spokesman, Darragh O’Brien, said Fianna Fáil has been advised against “a flat rent freeze” while the party’s candidate in Dublin Central Mary Fitzpatrick said the advice was that such a move would be “unconstitutional”.

Sinn Féin has proposed a three-year rent freeze as part of their housing policy.

“We did look very strongly at the whole rent freeze issue because to a certain extent the rent pressure zones that were introduced by the Government have failed,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.

“In fact, the 4 per cent has just become a target increase. So now automatically tenants are facing the 4 per cent increase in rent every year. So we do recognise that has been a big driver and contributor to the homelessness problem. But we have been advised legally that it [a rent freeze] is unconstitutional. So we clearly can’t do something that’s unconstitutional.”

Fianna Fáil has said it will publish that advice on Tuesday.

The party has also said it will review the current rent-pressure zones which prohibit increases above 4 per cent in certain areas.

Other proposals launched include an SSIA-style saving scheme for first time buyers who are trying to put together a deposit.

Mr O’Brien said this will cost €250 million every year and he denied that it would put further pressure on the market because it will be rolled out “over a sustained period of time”.

The party has pledged to build 50,000 social homes over the next five years and reduce development levies on the condition of construction being completed within three years.

Policy on homelessness

Fianna Fáil has also said it will introduce a €600 rent tax credit for all private renters and create a national rent-deposit scheme with a lifetime deposit that moves with the tenant.

On homelessness, the party says it would increase funding.

“Most importantly we want to end homelessness. We will allocate adequate funding to address rough sleeping on our streets as a matter of urgent priority by increasing homeless funding to €250 million per annum,” said Mr O’Brien.

The party also says it will move to prevent so-called cuckoo funds from buying up entire developments, and will also “reform and consolidate planning and compulsory purchase order laws”.