Wednesday 18 September 2019

Anger at Minister's claims there are 'plenty of places to rent for a fraction of the high cost'

Minister of State Michael D'Arcy TD at Kilanerin GAA Club, Kilanerin, Co. Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne
Minister of State Michael D'Arcy TD at Kilanerin GAA Club, Kilanerin, Co. Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne

Luke Byrne and Wayne O'Connor

A MINISTER sparked anger with claims that cheaper homes are available to rent “for a fraction” of the figures quoted in headlines.

Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy said tenants trying to rent in Dublin should consider hunting for bargain accommodation in other parts of the city.

Rents in Dublin are now €4,500 a year more expensive than during the boom, yet Mr D’Arcy claimed cheaper options are available for those who look.

“I know everybody always quotes the high cost areas but there are other places that are available for rent for a fraction of what’s being quoted in the headline figures,” he said.

“There’s also different areas where rental isn’t as expensive as it is a couple of streets towards the river and the other side of the river.”

A damning report by property website Daft yesterday showed rent prices were up 10.4pc last year and increased by 65pc compared to 2011.

Speaking at an event in Dublin yesterday, Mr D’Arcy added  rent issues were not unique to Dublin and posed problems in other jurisdictions.

He said: “Every city I’ve been to there’s a rental issue. 

“The high end is expensive and it’s expensive in Dublin, it’s expensive in every other city that I go to, whether it’s San Francisco, Singapore, Shanghai.”

However, Mr D’Arcy also said the rental crisis was an issue when it came to attracting jobs and foreign direct investment: “It’s a bigger issue for the people who are perhaps on higher pay. That’s a difficulty we’re trying to deal with.”

He also moved to promote the affordability housing platform for 1,000 units at 2.5pc fixed price for 30 years.

“That’s a wonderful opportunity for anybody earning less than €50,000,” said Mr D’Arcy.

But Fianna Fáil housing spokesperson Barry Cowen said the comments show the government is trying to normalise the housing crisis.

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen said he expects the company will announce around 150 redundancies at the semistate peat board next year. Photo: Tom Burke

“It further feeds into the Fine Gael narrative and attempts to seek to normalise this crisis.

“This is truly remarkable and highlights the fact that a minister in Government is so out of touch and detached from reality.”

The Irish Independent asked the Department of Finance for evidence of homes available in these areas for a fraction of prices quoted in reports, but no examples were provided.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also grilled on the rental crisis in the Dáil yesterday as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin pointed to a Department of Finance report published last September on the tax and fiscal treatment of rental accommodation.

It made 10 recommendations to address the housing crisis, including introducing tax relief measures for landlords.

“Housing targets by Government are not being met. It is a crisis in our cities by any yardstick,” Mr Martin added.

Mr Varadkar said he would like to remind himself of these recommendations before

commenting on them.

He added the Government was aware of the impact rising rents prices has on people.

Mr Cowen said this was typical of the Government’s approach to the housing crisis.

“During Leader’s Questions the Taoiseach couldn’t remember a report his own Government commissioned.

“The Government chose to disregard all 10 recommendations from its own report last September and then, in response to another damning report on the rental crisis, seeks to compare it to Shanghai, Singapore and San Francisco. 

“When the minister is frequenting himself with the goings on in such locations, Irish citizens are being told that 50pc of income being spent on rent is normal. This is truly remarkable.”

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