THE entire housing market in Ireland has changed dramatically since 2004, Deputy Áine Collin told the Dáil during a debate on the Residential Tenancies Bill.
"We have gone through the worst boom and bust in any housing market in the world," she said. "Irish people, traditionally, have been very attached to owning property, both personally and for investment purposes. This mindset is beginning to change rapidly because of recent events."
Up until now there were very few professional landlords in the residential market, few investors who sought to stay in the rental market over the longer period and few investors who worked to give their tenants long term security of tenure, pointed out Deputy Collins. "This is now changing. Many young couples will not be able to purchase a home in the foreseeable future. With changes in lifestyles and job mobility, many others may opt for good, well-controlled rental accommodation with security of tenure," she added.
Given the difficulty in getting mortgages along with the fall in incomes, many people may never be in a position to purchase their own homes, she said. Traditionally, these people would opt for social housing of one kind or another. For middle income, families this is not an option said the deputy.
"They are earning slightly too much to qualify for social housing but too little to get a mortgage under the strict criteria now being enforced by banks.
"The increase in private rental housing is inevitably going to increase to meet this demand. This new market is going to become more vibrant. For that reason it is essential that the Government lays down very clear guidelines as to the standard of private residential properties available for rent," she urged.
Professional landlords will see the advantage of providing good accommodation at a competitive price along with security of tenure, she said. This, in turn, will guarantee the landlords stable and long-term rental income.
This approach will enable households to access good quality housing appropriate to their household circumstances and in a community of their choice.