Monday 5 December 2016

Howlin lends support to Kelly's rent certainty proposal

Michael Cogley, Niall O’Connor and David Raleigh

Published 19/10/2015 | 15:39

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has lent his support to the proposal to link rent inflation.

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After twice declining to back the plan on Budget Day, Mr Howlin today said linking rent prices to Consumer Price Index would be an appropriate “anchor” in achieving so-called ‘rent certainty’.

Negotiations involving a number of government departments are due to continue this week in a bid to thrash out a package that will tackle spiralling rent bills.

The row over achieving rent certainty overshadowed the budget and led to significant tensions between Environment Minister Alan Kelly, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and their respective officials.

Speaking in Limerick today, Mr Noonan played down reports of a rift between him and Mr Kelly.

He said the pair are "working together" to help those struggling to meet high rents.

"The most difficult problems we have in the country at the moment is the supply of houses, and again it has moved from very quickly from the situation where there were empty houses all over the country -- and even in Limerick we had ghost estates, particularly in the villages -- to not having enough of houses for our people," Mr Noonan said.

"The supply of houses is a huge issue," he added.

Asked if he was concerned rent measures  might end up negatively effecting the supply of houses, Mr Noonan said: "There are a number of initiatives at the proposal level and they are been evaluated, so we'll wait and see where it lands."

"But, what I want to stress is that, both Alan Kelly and I are working together to address a problem which is quite difficult at present, particularly in the greater Dublin area.

"The talks are going on and were not in a position to make the next series of announcements yet, but we will in the next couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile in Dublin, Mr Howlin lent support to linking rent to CPI – which is among Mr Kelly’s key proposals.

Mr Kelly intends for such a measure to be in place for a few years so as to allow housing supply to be ramped up.

Mr Howlin said the overall rent package should not negatively impact on the property market. But he also said he did not believe linking rent to CPI would have that effect.

“I don’t think so [do harm to the market] not in the short term I think you need to have some anchor and CPI is obviously one anchor that would be perfectly understood,” Mr Howlin told reporters.

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