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The housing crisis and capping rents

Sir, – The fact that the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s rent strategy has generated such negative criticism in relatively equal measures from those on both sides of the argument probably suggests that he has got it about right in terms of encouraging landlords to rent out properties while protecting tenants from excessive increases. – Yours, etc,

FRANK BROWNE,

Templeogue,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – “Meddling will only drive investors away from the property market.” So says the totally impartial James Nugent, chairman of Lisney Estate Agents (“There is a rental crisis but don’t blame the landlords”, A Landlord’s Tale, December 14th). I see your publication is creeping back to its old ways. – Yours, etc,

GAVIN GRAHAM,

Phibsboro,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – I know one person of very modest income who has had to sell her second-hand car in order to pay a steep rent increase, thus keeping a roof over her family’s head, but which means that she now must cadge lifts for herself to get to work and for her children to get to school! – Yours, etc,

EILEEN McGOUGH,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.

Sir, – I think the initiative to cap rent increases is a huge step in the right direction, and if passed would provide a greater degree of assurance to our growing renting population.

However, I would also like to draw attention to Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney’s statement that “if you look at other countries who have introduced rent limits, 4 per cent is based on a modest rate of return so if people invest in the market they can have an increase”.

While I appreciate the Minister is looking at international norms, I think it is important to note that there are other international norms we do not adopt here such as greater rent certainty, as is the case in Germany, and a larger supply of affordable housing options as a realistic alternative for the working and middle classes, as in the Nordic countries.

If we are to take it that a 4 per cent growth in rent annually represents a modest return for landlords, does that also mean a 4 per cent pay rise annually should be the norm for workers in the public and private sectors? If not, then I hope that the Government realises that ever-increasing rents will continue to eat into the hard-earned incomes of workers in Ireland. Many, especially in cities, are already spending up to 50 per cent of their after-tax income on rent.

Giving the impression that this reality should continue is very damaging to the lives of those who have seen continuous rent increases the past three or four years, as well as to the economy more generally. – Yours, etc,

MARK PHILLIPS,

Dublin 2.