Saturday 3 December 2016

Tánaiste talks up regulation - but won't even mention rent certainty

Kevin Doyle and Peter Flanagan

Published 30/10/2015 | 02:30

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

Environment Minister Alan Kelly's hopes of securing 'rent certainty' appear to be dwindling after his party leaders refused to even use the phrase.

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Joan Burton said the term she would use for what the Government was planning was "regulation".

Speaking in Dublin last night, the Tánaiste said that she was in favour of "protecting and strengthening the rights of people who are tenants under a framework of regulation".

She continued: "There have been different elements of that spoken about in the media. I had discussions again yesterday with An Taoiseach in the context of the Cabinet meeting.

"There is a very high level of agreement. The critical thing is that we want to see the different elements of an interlocking plan rolling out."

The issue of introducing rent certainty has led to a massive impasse between the Department of Finance and the Environment Minister.

Mr Kelly has insisted it should be part of a package that will also address supply issues, but Finance Minister Michael Noonan is worried that such a measure would distort the market.

Ms Burton said her minister had been working "day and night" to find a resolution and she expected an agreement on the housing package to be reached within a fortnight.

Asked if the final deal would include rent certainty, she replied: "The term that I have used in relation to overarching improvement and strengthening of the rights of people who are renting is to look at the whole area of regulation."

She suggested there could be changes to the notice periods required before rents can be hiked, adding: "Landlords have to act in a reasonable way in relation to affordability."

Sources say a compromise is on the table, whereby the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) would be given new powers for dealing with disputes between landlords and tenants.

Developer Michael O'Flynn, who plans to build 10,000 homes in Dublin and Cork over the next eight years, last night backed the Department of Finance's view that rent certainty would play havoc with the market.

He told the Irish Independent that rent controls would stop houses being built and make the crisis far worse than it is already.

Supply

"Capping rents won't work. It will restrict further supply and we need further supply," he said.

"This is a supply and demand issue and we should be encouraging more investors to enter the market and supply rental accommodation.

"(Rent controls) will only discourage investors from building homes and will make the problem worse."

Ms Burton also said that the key to solving the housing crisis was "to actually get building".

"We need to get families with children out of hotel rooms," she said.

The Labour Party leader added that along with social housing, she wants more affordable housing for young people "who could afford to buy a fairly modest three-bedroom starter house, possibly for a mortgage less than what they are currently paying in rent.

"So it's essential that we have a freeing up both of equity investment and loans to builders who can start building," the Tánaiste added.

Irish Independent

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