Tuesday 16 January 2018

Kenny will intervene to resolve row over rent control

Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kell
Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kell

Niall O'Connor, Daniel McConnell and Laura Larkin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to intervene in a bid to resolve the ongoing row within the Coalition over Environment Minister Alan Kelly's 'rent certainty' proposals.

Mr Kenny is due to meet Mr Kelly this week as concern grows within Labour that the plan will be significantly watered down due to Fine Gael opposition.

Mr Kelly's package centres around the plan to link rent to the price of inflation until 2019 in a bid to prevent landlords, particularly in Dublin, from consistently increasing rent.

But Mr Noonan's officials are deeply opposed to the proposal amid fears it will jeopardise investment and negatively interfere in the rental market.

At the weekly Labour parliamentary party meeting last night, TDs and senators rallied behind Mr Kelly's plan.

The Tipperary TD told those present that the detail was still being worked on and that he was confident of striking an agreement with Fine Gael.

At the meeting, Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton suggested that the Private Residential Tenancies Board could be beefed up into a form of regulator in a bid to provide greater oversight of the market.

But Mr Kelly is adamant that rent should be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure which was proposed by the National Economic Social Council (NESC).

There was concern within the party after Public Expenditure Minister and Labour TD Brendan Howlin twice declined to support Mr Kelly's plan to link rent to CPI at the annual post-Budget press conference on Tuesday night. Mr Howlin said yesterday that he was supportive of the idea of rent certainty and rejected suggestions of a row within the Coalition.

However, the tensions between the two departments have rarely reached such a serious level, say several senior government sources.

It is expected that Mr Kenny will intervene in a bid to broker an agreement. A meeting between Mr Kenny and Mr Kelly was scheduled for last night, however, it has been rescheduled for later in the week.


Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny warned against measures that would meddle with the property market.

"It is very clear that interference in the market to its detriment is not something we should do," Mr Kenny said.

"While people are calling for what they call clarity in respect of certainty for rent, if you interfere in the wrong way, you make matters worse."

Meanwhile, a housing expert yesterday said the Government has failed to "grasp the nettle" when it comes to securing the situation for renters in this week's budget. Dr Lorcan Sirr, a housing lecturer in DIT, said "people are getting screwed by the fact that they have no certainty from 12 months to the next".

He added: "Lots of them are vulnerable people who may be at the lower end of the income scale."

Irish Independent

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