Kenny rules out market intervention to curb rental costs

Fine Gael source says Alan Kelly’s housing plans ‘barely economically viable’

The Taoiseach has ruled out Government intervention in the property market to curb the cost of rental accommodation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Taoiseach has ruled out Government intervention in the property market to curb the cost of rental accommodation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has firmly ruled out Government intervention in the property market to curb the cost of rental accommodation.

“It is very clear that interference in the market to its detriment is not something we should do,’’ he said.

“While people are calling for what they call clarity in respect of certainty for rent, if you interfere in the wrong way you make matters worse.’’

Mr Kenny’s comments in the Dáil on Wednesday followed reports of tensions between Labour Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Fine Gael because of the failure to agree a comprehensive housing package for the budget.

A senior Fine Gael source said Mr Kelly’s plans, including caps on rents, were “barely economically viable’’. Sources close to Mr Kelly said Fine Gael’s plans to deal with the housing crisis were “tokenistic’’ and “insufficient to deal with family homelessness’’.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil Mr Kelly was “working very hard’’ on housing proposals.

“Believe me, I have a frustration about the fact this is not moving the way one would want,’’ he added.

Mr Kenny said money was not the problem, adding the problems lay with the planning regulations and the process of planning permission.

“Until you deal with the question of the provision of extra houses, you cannot deal with this problem in reality,’’ he added.

He said the Department of Social Protection had been dealing with thousands of cases where the rent supplement could be increased to give a certainty to the tenant and the landlord.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin who said there was no sense of emergency about the problem of homelessness.

When Focus Ireland set up an action team in 2012, Mr Martin added, an average of eight new families were presenting as homeless in Dublin every month, increasing to 40 families in 2014, and to between 65 to 70 in the first half of this year.

“That is more than two new families becoming homeless every day and no action from the Government to arrest that,’’ said Mr Martin.

He said the number of children sleeping in emergency or homeless accommodation had almost doubled since October 2014.

Mr Kenny said it was not acceptable that families had to stay in bed and breakfast and hotel rooms. It was not true to say there was nothing in the Budget for the homeless, he said, adding that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had signalled that Nama would provide 20,000 houses between now and 2020.

One hundred sites would be opened across the country next year and deliver up to 80 houses per week, Mr Kenny added.