Social Democrats says rent freeze ‘inarguable’

Party’s launches renters’ charter to end cuckoo fund tax breaks, ban rent bidding wars

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy and Dublin South West candidate Carly Bailey unveil the party’s Renters Charter in Tallaght, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A temporary rent freeze is "inarguable" and necessary because the rental sector requires emergency responses, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said.

Speaking as she launched the party’s proposals for a renters charter to protect tenants and make sure the rental sector provided affordable and secure homes, Ms Murphy said “we are in an emergency situation and that requires emergency responses”.

She insisted that “the need for a temporary rent-freeze is inarguable”.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have consistently opposed a freeze on rent.

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Fianna Fáil said their legal advice was that a freeze on rents would be unconstitutional.

Ms Murphy said, however, that any freeze, while nationwide, would be time limited and there would also be strengthened regulation in the sector.

“Those in the private rental sector need to be afforded protections - both in terms of cost and length of tenancy. That is the only way to ensure that the private rental sector is a viable and sustainable housing option for those seeking homes instead of just temporary accommodations.”

An entire generation were living “with one foot in the street” because they cannot afford a deposit on a home and cannot keep up with constantly increasing rents.

“Even for the so-called ‘lucky ones’ who have secure jobs or well-heeled parents, they are facing into a future that is much less secure than that of their parents when it comes to finding a place to settle down and call home.”

The party’s rental charter includes a time-limited nationwide rent freeze and strengthened regulation in the sector; n end to preferential tax breaks for cuckoo funds; extra protections for tenants in buy-to-let properties; a deposit protection scheme to fix deposits at one month’s rent’ and a ban on rental bidding wars

The party’s Dublin South West general election candidate Cllr Carly Bailey said that “as a renter myself I am acutely aware that both landlords and tenants have rights but also responsibilities in ensuring good attitudes and behaviour within the sector.

“Our Renter’s Charter offers protections for renters to help create a rental sector that provides security of tenure as well as affordability.

“Raising a family in rental accommodation can be a terrifying experience as you’re unsure of how long you will be there when looking at things like school places for example,” she said. “Providing rent certainty and greater security of tenure means families can meaningfully put down roots in a community instead of constantly being transient.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times