Taoiseach warns against ‘rigid’ rent controls to help tenants

Varadkar says people could end up paying cash secretly or sub-letting

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil landlords get a bad press, some deservedly so, but they did not all deserve it. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil landlords get a bad press, some deservedly so, but they did not all deserve it. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned against the introduction of controls to help tenants coping with high rents.

He said introducing controls, which were too rigid, could be counter-productive, leading to more of a black market in rent.

“We see that happening in places where there are very strict rent controls and people end up paying cash amounts under the table or sub-letting to others,’’ he added.

The Taoiseach was responding in the Dáil on Tuesday to the Daft.ie report, which revealed rents had increased by 52 per cent nationally on the lows of 2010.

Mr Varadkar said landlords got a bad press, some deservedly so, but they did not all deserve it, and they had to ensure the decline in the number of people renting out properties was arrested.

He said the solution was more supply in the rental market.

Mr Varadkar said the Government was very aware of the impact of rising rents, risking driving people into homelessness.

In other cases, people had to pay huge amounts of their income in rent, leaving little money for other living costs.

That was why the Government had introduced rent pressure zones, covering more than half of those renting, he said. Those tenants had their rent increases capped at four per cent, he added.

He said those tenants were not covered by the survey which dealt only with new properties and tenancies.

“The majority of people renting have been protected by the rent pressure zones,’’ he added.

Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin said many families were under threat of eviction, having been given deadlines by landlords to leave their properties. Students were having difficulty finding accommodation, he added.

The cost of rent was making the homeless situation more perilous, Mr Martin added.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin asked how ordinary people could afford such high rents.

He said rents should be linked to the consumer price index.