Rent caps for Galway city and 23 towns come into force today
Rent caps have been extended to 24 further areas as part of the Government's attempts to tackle spiralling bills.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney last night published the list of new rent-pressure zones, which will see the caps come into force immediately.
The caps, which are set at 4pc per annum, were introduced in Dublin and Cork cities before Christmas after agreement was reached between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
The new list of zones includes Galway city, as well as 23 towns in Cork and along the Dublin commuter belt. These include Bray in Co Wicklow, Naas, Celbridge and Newbridge in Co Kildare, and Laytown-Bettystown, Ashbourne and Ratoath in Co Meath.
The areas were finalised by Mr Coveney on the back of recommendations by the Residential Tenancies Board and the Housing Agency. They will come into effect as rental pressure zones from today.
For towns to be designated as a pressure zone the average rent 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.
However, there will be disappointment over the decision not to include Waterford or Limerick in the latest list of areas.
Last night, Mr Coveney acknowledged that supply was the most important issue that needed to be addressed.
But he said this move would push the number of tenancies protected to above 200,000.
"We have made very significant progress in a short space of time to have this new system in place and to ensure that we can properly target this intervention towards those areas facing the most severe pressures," Mr Coveney said. "Over the medium term though, additional supply is the right way to address rental pressures. We need to ensure the supply side response is strong and swift by implementing the full range of complementary supply measures contained in the rental strategy."
Fianna Fáil's housing spokesman Barry Cowen last night said his party would continue to insist on the designation of more areas as pressure zones in the coming weeks.
The announcement of 24 new zones came just hours after there were testy exchanges in the Dáil over the issue of the housing crisis.
Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett strongly criticised the Government's approach, saying rent support payments were far too low to help people rent a home.
The Dún Laoghaire TD said in all of south Dublin there was only one flat for rent which was within the permitted limit.
Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers told the Dáil that the town of Westport in her home constituency of Mayo was a "no-go area" for people seeking rental accommodation.
During Leaders' Questions, Ms Chambers said housing support schemes such as HAP and RAS must be reviewed.
In response to the criticism, Education Minister Richard Bruton insisted the Government's housing plans were being implemented in full and the focus was on increasing supply.