Opposition parties unconvinced by Coveney’s rental plan

Landlords say State responsible for rental crisis and interference making it worse

Forward planning is vital if the housing needs of an aging population are to be met close to amenities and transport services. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Forward planning is vital if the housing needs of an aging population are to be met close to amenities and transport services. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

There has been mixed reaction to the measures expected to be announced on Tuesday by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to tackle rising rents.

The centrepiece of the Minister’s plan will be to give tenants “rent predictability” in areas hit by rapid rises. Escalating rents are blamed in many quarters for the homelessness crisis.

Under the new measures, landlords in Dublin and Cork would only be able to implement increases by up to 4 per cent a year, over the next three years, under proposals being brought to Cabinet.

Fianna Fáil’s housing spokesman Barry Cowen said he had several concerns with what has been reported. He said these would be discussed by the party.

The Government is eager to introduce the proposals to the Dáil this week.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the initiative would allow for a 12 per cent increase in rents across the board in Dublin and Cork and would remove the rent freeze in place.

The party’s housing spokesman said a number of other parts of the country including Limerick and Offaly have experienced a 10 per cent increase in 2016 and would be be excluded from relief.

Mr Ó Broin said the party favoured rent-certainty measures, but it needed to evaluate if this was the best way to ensure stability in the market.

Stephen Faughnan, chairman of the Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA), said short-term interference caused long-term difficulties “undermining the confidence of prospective investors”.

“The State has caused the rental crisis and continual interference is making it worse. A typical example is the rent control introduced by [former] minister [Alan] Kelly just complicated the market and increased rents,” he said,

The group, which has about 5,000 members, has called on the Government to review the measures.

The IPOA said further restrictions would cause property owners to withdraw units through “unaffordability”.

‘Incompetence’

It said the “true problem” was the lack of accommodation available due to inadequate investment from the Government in the area.

“Their actions are making the private residential landlords of Ireland suffer for this incompetence,” it said.

The Dublin Tenants’ Association hoped the proposed rental strategy would offer immediate relief for tenants.

Patrick Bresnihan, who is a member of the association, said reports suggested the Minister would introduce limits on increases only in designated areas, which sounded “quite complex”.

“What is being talked about sounds good, but until we see exactly what the Minister is suggesting we won’t know. That sounds good on paper but it seems like quite a complex system,” he said.

“We need something to kick in now.”

Mr Bresnihan said that with the current rent freeze would come to an end soon and there was a need for more immediate relief for tenants.

“There are some people who live every day in fear of a rent increase,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“People are paying 30 per cent of their income on rent, and for them to then get slapped with a 25 per cent or 30 per cent increase in rent is alarming. They come into us to find out if this legal or if they can challenge it.”

He said there was now a generation of single people aged in their 40s who would never own a home and long-term renting needed to become an option.

“Tenants need to start recognising that they are a growing constituency with rights,” he said.