Rent control talks break down without agreement

Simon Coveney offered to outline areas outside Dublin and Cork to be assessed for caps

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has published his strategy for the private rental sector but the proposals could already be in jeopardy as party sources in Fianna Fáil have indicated that they will not support the strategy.

 

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney offered to outline areas outside Dublin and Cork that would have their assessment for rent caps brought forward in talks with Fianna Fáil.

Fianna Fáil is insisting that Mr Coveney extend his so-called “rent pressure zones” to areas outside the capital and Cork city but the Minister says that can only be done following an independent assessment of rent levels in those areas.

In talks with Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen, Mr Coveney offered to outline specific areas that would have these assessments bought forward from the initial planned date of March to January.

While he said he would outline these specific areas on the floor of the Dáil, Fianna Fáil is insisting that it will take amendments to the legislation that will give effect to Mr Coveney’s proposals seeking to extend rent caps to areas outside Dublin and Cork.

The legislation giving effect to the rental plan has been delayed but Government sources say it has not been fully withdrawn.

Highly critical

Talks between the Government and Fianna Fáil on proposed rent control plans broke down without agreement on Wedesday night.

Fianna Fáil sources were, however, highly critical of how Mr Coveney had handled the issue and said no decision had been made. “It is no way to do business,” said a senior Fianna Fáil source. Emphasising the Government’s hardline stance, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Fine Gael TDs and Senators the rental plan will be withdrawn in its entirety if Fianna Fáil does not support it.

Mr Coveney is insisting he will not make any substantial changes to his strategy and is seen by Fine Gael TDs as having staked his political reputation in refusing to bow to Fianna Fáil pressure.

Mr Cowen on Thursday said Fianna Fáil was prepared to ‘sit any day to get this thing right’.

“We are prepared to sit today, tomorrow, next week to ensure that the proper legislation goes through,” he told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

“The Minister can re submit the report at any stage.”

Mr Cowen said that Mr Coveney was “well intentioned” but that he should have consulted the other parties.

“We entered into this process in good faith and made submissions. It is pivotal that we be consulted on the issue of rent certainty.

“He decided on the criteria and foisted it on us. If there had been better consultations the criteria would be sufficient. I have access to my constituents and my 44 colleagues are adamant that these criteria are not the best.”

Mr Cowen said he would meet with the Minister today and was prepared to compromise on some issues.