Thursday 29 September 2016

Fianna Fail slams government plans to re-locate homeless to rural areas as 'crazy'

Published 20/08/2015 | 13:19

Barry Cowen
Barry Cowen

Fianna Fail today described a proposed government scheme to relocate homeless people from Dublin to rural parts of Ireland as “crazy”.

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Speaking at the launch of a policy document outlining radical measures to tackle the growing national rent crisis Fianna Fáil spokesman on the environment Barry Cowen said the housing crisis was not exclusive to Dublin, saying almost half of the representations he receives in his constituency related to housing.

In the party’s document “Generation Rent – A New Deal for Renters and Landlords” Fianna Fail proposes to increase the rent supplement ceiling for struggling families. It also pledges  to support longer term leases to give security of tenure to families.

The policy also proposes allowing local property tax be set off as an expense against rental income, and the introduction of a cap on rents to match the average rent for similar properites in the same area.

Mr  Cowen attacked the government for failing to act on the homeless and rental crisis which he said is growing in Dublin and right across rural Ireland with rent becoming completely inaffordable for many.

The plan outlines three steps to address the crisis by drawing together the needs of both renters and landlords alike “instead of crudely playing them off against each other as has been the Government’s approach to date.”

On tenant’s rights and affordable rent Fianna Fail is proposing legislation that will enshrine a long term “family tenure” lease to give greater security to tenants especially families.

The party says it will put in place tax incentives such as full mortgage interest relief against rental income for landlords that engage in family and long term leases at a cost to the exchequer of €62 million.

The party also advocates a new ‘Deposit Retention Scheme’ under the remit of a reformed Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). It wants deposits to be held by the PRTB rather than landlords in an attempt to reduce disputes.

The scheme would involve ramping up measures for non-compliance and reducing administrative costs to ensure the system was self-financing.

Mr Cowen said under this model all tenants would benefit from increased financial secutiy, while low income and marginal households would require less exceptional social welfare payments to compensate for lost deposits.

The party also commits to establishing rent certainty promising legislation to establish an average rent per square metre to be set annually by the PRTB in local areas for new leases.

For existing leases there will be a rent review notice from 28 days to three months, with landlords required to present clear evidence of rent hikes in similar nearby properties to justify an increase.

To increase the quality of rental accommadation Fianna Fail is promising a national inspection regime and a Local Authoirty Quality Accommadation Certificate to be issued once every three years to help build up a strong level of quality homes.

Mr Cowen said irrespective of what politics children shouldn’t be sleeping in parks, and families and children  shouldn’t be sleeping in emergency accommodation.”

He accused Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly of being a  “self-styled action man” under whose watch the rent and homeless crisis has been at its worse.

 “Rent is becoming completely unaffordable for many and the quality of accommodation is far below standard. As it stands there are no incentives for landlords to stay in the system”

A new tax regime for landlords to encourage investment is proposed, along with tax changes to help a group of negative equality involuntary landlords”.

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