Saturday 17 March 2018

'Urgent' call to force landlords to declare rates

Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron
Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A rent register where landlords would have to declare their rates could bring stability to the market, a housing charity has said.

Thousands of students are struggling to find accommodation ahead of the new college term, with prices now 13pc higher than the Celtic Tiger peak in 2008.

Threshold believes new figures showing the average renter is paying €1,159 mean new protections need to be "urgently" put in place for tenants.

The housing body claims legislation brought in last year to restrict price rises in 'Rent Pressure Zones' (RPZ) is being flouted by landlords. Under the RPZ laws, a new tenant can only be charged 4pc more than the previous occupant.

Chair of Threshold Dr Aideen Hayden said: "Many tenants are desperate, and those who can afford the asking rent are prepared to pay without many questions, to get a roof over their heads.

"With such a shortage of supply, if legislation is not enforced, rents can only go up in the face of such desperation, and this is a very poor vista for low and middle-income earners."

However, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said she favours more transparency "but it's a competitive market out there and you know we do want to see people making housing available for rent".

Despite the spiralling rents and spike in homelessness, the Enterprise Minister insisted the Government was getting on top of the housing crisis.

She said over 1,100 student places were provided over the past year and another 7,000 were on the way.

"So there's a very good programme for developing supports for the development of student accommodation, so we will certainly see more and more units coming on stream. But it is a big issue in Ireland obviously."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has accused Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor of talking down to students and parents as if they were naughty school children.

Meath TD Thomas Byrne said she suggested parents were not engaged or doing their homework on the topic.

"The student accommodation crisis is a powder keg that continues to ignite year on year, and is now at its nadir," he said.

"Minister Mitchell O'Connor's appointment to her position has been controversial, and her public comments and inability to offer practical reassurance regarding student accommodation now casts another shadow over her newly created ministerial role."

Irish Independent

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