20 towns set to get rent caps after price review
Up to 20 new towns in Cork, Galway, and in counties along the Dublin commuter belt will see rent caps introduced in the coming weeks.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney is expected to reveal the new rent pressure zones before the end of the month following a review of prices in several counties. However, Fianna Fáil is set to call for almost 40 towns to be designated as pressure zones due to the prohibitive cost of rising rents in other areas of the country.
Mr Coveney tasked the Housing Agency with identifying towns where rent caps should be introduced across 15 specific electorate areas. The report is almost finalised and it is understood the vast majority of areas reviewed were found to have met the criteria needed.
"I expect quite a number of towns will be included in this and quite a number of towns which would like to get but won't get because they don't qualify," Mr Coveney told the Irish Independent.
For towns to be designated as a pressure zone the average rents has to be above the national average and prices must have increased by 7pc in four of the last six quarters.
Landlords can increase rent by only 4pc a year for the next three years in designated zones. The Housing Agency is believed to have identified electoral areas in Cork and Galway where rent caps need to be introduced. A number of areas in counties along the Dublin commuter belt are also expected to be designated. Sources indicated Navan in Meath and Naas in Kildare met the criteria, as has Carrigaline, Ballincollig, Douglas and Rochestown in Cork.
Towns in Limerick and Waterford are not expected to see rent caps introduced following the outcome of the Housing Agency's review but could be designated as pressure zones in a future audit. The minister was criticised when he introduced his rent strategy as only areas in Dublin and Cork were designated as pressure zones.
Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen said he would insist on almost 40 towns being selected as the rent zones.
"According to our initial analysis of which areas look like they will be designated as rent pressure zones this year, it appears that there are many areas where renters are under serious pressure could lose out," Mr Cowen said.
"It's a great pity Mr Coveney did not allow a longer time frame to discuss his rent control proposals, so we could have put criteria under greater scrutiny."
Data compiled by Fianna Fáil shows at least 18 towns on the Dublin commuter belt and outside Cork City currently meet the criteria to be included in the Government's rent pressure zones. Another 21 towns in parts of Galway, Limerick and Waterford are expected to meet the criteria in the coming months, according to Fianna Fáil's analysis.
Fianna Fáil's figures use information available from the Residential Tenancies Board.
But Mr Coveney said he would be "sceptical" of Fianna Fáil's figures. The minister said the review of rent prices needed to be based on data, not on popular political decisions.
Housing is increasingly becoming a flashpoint between the two largest parties. The Government yesterday escaped an embarrassing defeat in the Dáil after the Ceann Comhairle used his casting vote.
TDs were voting on a bill aimed at tackling evictions when the numbers were tied 51-51. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that in keeping with custom and practice, he would vote in favour of the amended bill and side with the Government.
FF's pressure-zone towns list
Towns soon to meet rent-cap criteria
Galway: Salthill, Rahoon, Oranmore, Ballybane, Monivea.
Kildare: Monasterevin, Rathangan.
Meath: Dunshaughlin, Laytown, Navan, Enfield.
Cork: Rochestown, Passage West, Carrigtwohill, Midleton, Cloyne.
Limerick: Raheen, Castleconnell.
Towns currently meeting rent-cap criteria
Kildare: Maynooth, Naas, Sallins, Newbridge, Kilcock, Kill.
Meath: Ashbourne, Bettystown, Duleek, Ratoath, Dunboyne.
Wicklow: Greystones, Delgany, Wicklow Town.
Cork: Ballincollig, Douglas, Tower.