Fianna Fáil has called for the Competition Authority to investigate a group of landlords who are threatening to bring in a number of new charges for tenants in response to Government measures to control rents.
The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA), which represents 5,000 landlords, said it was considering imposing 12 new levies on tenants including property tax, service charges, registration fees, car parking fees, and call out payments in response.
“The measures being introduced are so severe that rents will not cover costs and devaluation of property will be significant, all adding to the exit of the investor,” IPOA chairman Stephen Faughnan said. “It is notable that Government and those demanding change are oblivious to the huge burden that all these measures will have on the tenants and the loss of supply.”
Mr Faughnan said the landlords could also seek compensation for damages and barring orders against tenants for anti-social behaviour.
He was responding to new measures, set to come into force next year, which for a three-year period will cap rent increases at 4 per cent in Dublin and Cork city. The cap could possibly be extended to other parts of the country such as Galway, Waterford and Limerick where there are rental pressures.
Fianna Fáil's housing spokesman Barry Cowen and Meath TD Thomas Byrne called on Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to order the Competition Authority to investigate the IPOA.
Mr Byrne said it was evident the landlords had exposed loopholes in legislation and Mr Coveney needed to act immediately.
“Could the Minister indicate whether the legislation already covers that and, if it does not, what are his proposals in relation to it? These are loopholes that apparently have already been identified and we must put a stop to them and close them down as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr Coveney did not respond to the calls for an investigation. However, he said he had been accused of introducing a landlord-friendly strategy but that the IPOA statement proved this was not the case.
The Dáil was due to pass the legislation on the rental strategy last night and it is to be considered by the Seanad next week.
Sinn Féin, the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit and the Social Democrats strongly criticised the measures.
Fianna Fáil abstained in the votes, as per the confidence and supply arrangement reached between it and the minority Government, and was strongly criticised for allowing the legislation to proceed.
Independent TD Thomas Pringle claimed their actions showed they and Fine Gael were under the control of the builders and developers.
“ It is the big failing of Fine Gael, because that party is completely market driven and beholden to the market. Fianna Fáil is similar,” he said.
“The only argument between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is whether rents will increase by 2 per cent or 4 per cent next year. The last two days of brinkmanship were about how much the increase in rents should be.”
He said if the Government was serious about dealing with the housing crisis it would propose a rent freeze.