Cap on rent increases to be introduced within weeks, Taoiseach says

Sinn Féin renews call for three year freeze for 750,000 tenants in rental accommodation

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will introduce a new cap on rent increases in the coming weeks to keep them below the rate of inflation.  Photograph: Mark Marlow/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will introduce a new cap on rent increases in the coming weeks to keep them below the rate of inflation. Photograph: Mark Marlow/PA Wire

 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will introduce a new cap on rent increases “in the coming weeks” to keep them below the rate of inflation, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.

Micheál Martin said the limit would keep downward pressure on rents in order to ensure they do not rise as they had done in rent pressure zones.

He also said the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) would receive an additional €11 million to ensure landlords who breach rent caps are penalised.

The Taoiseach was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who claimed there was nothing in the budget for those renting but it had provided tax breaks for landlords.

Ms McDonald renewed her party’s call for a three year freeze for the 750,000 tenants in rental accommodation. She said “not a single measure in Budget 2022 will alleviate the financial pressures faced by renters”.

“There was no move to cut rents or ban rent increases, no measures to improve standards or security of tenure,” she said.

She added that “while this budget does nothing for struggling renters, it made damn sure big landlords still get their income”.

“The only private rented sector measure in the Government’s budget is an extension of a tax break for landlords.”

‘Stripped away’

The Dublin Central TD said it took a pandemic for the Government to introduce emergency protections for tenants but these have been “stripped away” by the Minister and “rents have started to spiral out of control yet again”.

Mr Martin said the budget provided €600 million to 65,000 renters on the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap), 17,000 on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (Ras) and 20,000 through Rent Supplement. Tenants would also receive tax relief through the indexation of income tax bands and credits.

The Taoiseach said the linking of rent increases to inflation had been followed by a rise in inflation internationally.

He said the Minister for Housing “is committed in the next number of weeks to bring in a cap, below the level of inflation, to keep the pressure on rents downwards”, so that they would not increase at the same rate they had previously.

“And this will be lower obviously than what was provided for under rent pressure zones themselves.”

Consistently focused

He said Mr O’Brien “has been very consistently focused also on improving the capacity of the RTB”.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Government had “disgracefully let down renters in this country”. He said rents increased by 5.7 per cent between April and June in addition to rising last year.

The Taoiseach said the budget had given “modest relief” to people.

“I’m not saying this is the be-all and end-all but the indexation of tax does help people,” he said.

Mr Martin said the Government had targeted resources at building more affordable and social homes which was “the most effective economic way to deal with rents”.