Thursday 23 January 2020

Martin declines to commit to a rent freeze if returned to power

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin
John Downing

John Downing

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has backed away from any commitment to introduce a rent freeze if his party is returned to government in the forthcoming election.

The Fianna Fáil party backed a draft law brought to the Dáil by Sinn Féin on December 10 which would ban rent increases for up to three years.

But while Mr Martin said his party would give huge priority to the housing crisis, he would not commit to a full rent freeze, and merely talked about the need for rent controls. Asked if that support for the Sinn Féin bill by Fianna Fáil meant his party would freeze rents, Mr Martin was evasive.

"We facilitated the movement of that bill to committee stage. But we will have far more comprehensive policy platform than just rent controls, which are important, the rents are far too high. We also are conscious of the supply issue," Mr Martin told reporters.

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The Fianna Fáil leader said the four by-elections held in late November brought home to the party how concerned the entire population was about the housing crisis. He said the issue came up on nearly every doorstop.

Mr Martin said the voters will be presented with detailed housing proposals as part of their general election manifesto.

Embattled Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has repeatedly challenged Fianna Fáil to produce its own proposals rather than repeatedly criticising his work on the issue.

Mr Martin said its policy would include tax incentives aimed at smaller-scale landlords to increase rental supply.

He said the Finance Department had reported on this issue after the first rent controls were introduced almost three years ago.

He said other recommendations by the Finance Department had not been acted upon. There were also now large numbers of houses which were unoccupied which must be brought back into use.

"We need more landlords in the market, we're losing landlords as well. But there has to be something done to control rents," Mr Martin said.

He said full details would come in the campaign.

Irish Independent

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