Coveney faces clamour for towns to be listed as 'rent pressure zones'
Fine Gael politicians have expressed concern that the mechanism being used to select the new areas for rent caps will see many rural towns bypassed.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney faces a clamour from other parts of the country as rent caps will be extended to up to 20 further towns in the coming weeks.
Clare senator Martin Conway last night said it would be "completely unacceptable" if Ennis, which is in his constituency, was excluded.
"The rent pressures in Ennis are acute, it is proving so difficult for people to find a rental property at a reasonable rate," Mr Conway told the Irish Independent.
"I would not be one bit happy if Ennis was not included in the latest tranche of towns."
Other urban areas such as Limerick and Waterford are not expected to be included in the list of new rent pressure zones, due to be announced in the coming weeks.
However, Waterford TD John Deasy said he did not believe Waterford should be included this time round.
"Waterford has not seen the type of rent pressures that have been recorded in the likes of Dublin in recent times," Mr Deasy said.
His party colleague senator Paudie Coffey also expressed caution about designating Waterford as a rent pressure zone, but said he would like to see all of the data guiding Mr Coveney's decision.
For towns to be designated as a pressure zone the average rents has to be above the national average and prices must have increased by 7pc in four of the last six quarters.
Landlords can increase rent by only 4pc a year for the next three years in designated zones.
The 20 new towns are in Cork, Galway, and in counties along the Dublin commuter belt. Mr Coveney is due to reveal the full list by the end of the month.
Sources indicated Navan in Meath and Naas in Kildare met the criteria, as has Carrigaline, Ballincollig, Douglas and Rochestown in Cork.
Fianna Fáil's Housing spokesperson Barry Cowen is set to call for almost 40 towns to be designated as pressure zones due to the prohibitive cost of rising rents in other areas of the country. But Mr Coveney said he would be "sceptical" of Fianna Fáil's figures.
He said the review of rent prices needed to be based on data, not on popular decisions.
Mr Coveney was initially criticised when he introduced his rent strategy as only areas in Dublin and Cork were designated as pressure zones. But his ability to secure support in the Dáil has boosted his leadership credentials.