Rent control plan ‘step in right direction’, say housing advocacy groups

Call for scheme’s extension to Galway, Limerick and around Dublin and Cork cities

Housing and homeless advocacy bodies called for the scheme to be extended. Photograph: PA

Housing and homeless advocacy bodies called for the scheme to be extended. Photograph: PA

 

Housing and homelessness bodies have welcomed the rental strategy as a “step in the right direction” but expressed concern at its limitations.

A proposed 4 per cent cap on annual rent increases in Dublin and Cork city for three years was greeted with caution by Threshold, Focus Ireland, the Simon Communities, the Dublin Tenants Association and the Irish Council for Social Housing, who said it still meant significant increases despite rents being above their peak before the property crash.

Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said he was concerned the cap only applied to existing tenancies. He said while it would help these households to continue affording their rent, it could mean “landlords shift all the price pressure to new leases”.

Chairwoman of Threshold Aideen Hayden said the scheme needed to be extended to Galway, Limerick and commuter areas around Dublin and Cork cities “without delay”.

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

Continual interference

“The State has caused the rental crisis and continual interference is making it worse, a typical example is the rent control introduced by Minister Kelly [which] just complicated the market and increased rents,” he said on behalf of the group, which has about 5,000 members.

Pat Davitt, chief executive of the Independent Property Auctioneers and Valuers, said while the rental strategy was welcome there was serious “mismatching” across the timing of different actions.

He said the lack of supply of properties is the issue that needed to be addressed with more intense measures.

“There is a real danger that the strategy, while well-intended, will get tied up in its own administration and miss some of the big picture actions which are needed to ensure that supply ramps up to meet demand,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the proposals 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 seen a 10 per cent increase in rents in 2016 and would be excluded from relief.

Mr Ó Broin said the party favoured rent certainty measures but it needed to evaluate if this was the best means of ensuring stability in the market.