Mortgage rules – time for common sense

Sir, – Conor Pope's article "Is it really cheaper to buy than to rent in Dublin? Absolutely" (Homes & Property, September 30th) underpins the urgent need for a conversation regarding the Central Bank of Ireland mortgage lending rules as they apply to long-term renters.

The Central Bank rules play a vital role in ensuring that people don’t become overburdened with mortgage debt and in broad terms they deserve our support.

However, in designing rules that are meant to stop people taking on mortgages they cannot afford, they have had the unintended consequence of forcing people to take on rents they cannot afford.

I challenge you to find someone who can effectively save towards a 20 per cent deposit while paying anywhere around the average Dublin rent of €1,700 per month, as per recent Residential Tenancies Board figures. They are effectively trapped. An entire generation is currently locked out of any realistic prospect of home ownership and thus decisions such as family formation and other long-term plans are put on hold or shelved entirely as a result of such housing uncertainty.

The Central Bank regulations already apply different rules and exemptions for particular groups, including those in negative equity. So there is no logical argument as to why long-term renters who can prove the ability to sustain a mortgage and who wish to buy in order to lower their monthly housing costs should not be cut some slack by the Central Bank in terms of the minimum deposit required.

There are many measures required to help renters, including a switch to a cost-rental housing model, better security of tenure, and a deposit-protection scheme.

However, it is folly to ignore the very real contribution the Central Bank rules have made to the severe inflation seen in the rental market over the past few years and how this in turn has trapped families and raised the risk of homelessness for many. It is time for some common economic sense to prevail. – Yours, etc,

ANNE-MARIE McNALLY,

Political Director,

Social Democrats,

Dublin 2.

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