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Exit of small landlords is the real issue in the rental market

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Vilification of landlords has led to 200 fleeing the market every month

Vilification of landlords has led to 200 fleeing the market every month

Vilification of landlords has led to 200 fleeing the market every month

Sir — The piece by Niall Toner on May 15 on the rental market (‘The only way is up’) stated that the latest Daft.ie report “made grim reading for renters” and quotes a range of numbers as if they were rents paid by the average sitting tenant in Ireland — that is, the more than 300,000 registered rental units in the State.

While the Daft.ie Rent Report headlines with an 11.7pc inflation rate, this rate actually applies to only a tiny percentage of the market: those available to rent at a point in time.

The statistics in the Daft report are based only on properties advertised on Daft.ie for a given period — properties with no sitting tenant and available for rent, supply of which is dominated by the large investment funds.

However, rents for most tenants are remarkably stable.

The average rate of inflation for sitting tenants over the past year was 2pc.  

Thankfully, Daft.ie reports are now starting to highlight the difference in rents between sitting tents (over 99pc of the market) and available rental properties.

On May 1, there were just 851 homes available to rent in the entire country.  

While the reality is that rents are very stable for the vast majority of tenants, supply of new properties to rent is too low.

This brings me to the real issue in the rental market — which Niall Toner gets to near the end of his piece: the run-rate of exits of smaller private landlords from the market.

Currently, more than 600 landlords are leaving each quarter and the supply of new rental properties from investment funds is not replacing those lost from smaller landlords exiting.  They are leaving due to three main factors: overburdensome regulation, penal taxation treatment and vilification of landlords.

Left-wing parties, which have demanded the regulation and are doing the bulk of the vilification, will tell you landlords are “cashing out”.

Not so. Returns on other asset classes are negative or extremely low, so it makes no sense to move from investing in residential property to holding cash, shares or bonds — unless the market reality of being a landlord is simply too much trouble, which it increasingly is for many.

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Mark Mohan, Castleknock Dublin 15

State’s rural clearances are a national disgrace

Sir — Are we too late to protest at the “clearances” being carried out in rural Ireland by successive governments in Dublin?

Unfortunately, much of the fabric of rural Ireland is gone, but let us fight for what is left. Successive governments have kept making small farms and small enterprises unviable. Planning permissions for the “new house” were rejected by council planning departments. The mantra was “get the rural population down” — and then close down the one-teacher school.

Now they have decided farming should be stopped. One party leader used a statistic that 1,300 people in Ireland die from smoke inhalation from turf smoke. Turf smoke? In an Irish countryside where they have closed the houses?

My town of Elphin, Co Roscommon, is the only parish in the county that suffered a drop in population in the last census. The town centre is denuded of people, where once we had a vibrant township.

Before the last election, I said Roscommon would not return a TD from any of the main-flow political parties, and I was proved correct. There always was a protest vote in Roscommon, back to the days of Count Plunkett.

But now the powers-that-be have taken much of north Ros- common and tagged it on to Sligo. The rural areas of Boyle and the villages nestling in the Curlew Hills have little in common with a city like Sligo.

The inability of parishes to field senior football teams is symptomatic of the decay perpetrated on us. It’s 40 years since a north Roscommon parish (Kilmore) won a senior football county final.

This depopulation of Ireland’s towns and villages has been more effective than the post-Famine land clearance carried out by the British — and it has been done by our own.

Seán Neary, Elphin, Co Roscommon

Greens’ decisions on energy are a red flag

Sir — The majority of households and small businesses in Ireland are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis on multiple fronts. Against this backdrop, Ireland is facing an existential threat to the cost of food and its energy security.

Despite these significant challenges, our Government has failed to address these seismic issues in any meaningful way. The energy crisis is made worse still by the Government’s policy on energy, which is imprisoned by the narrow ideological position of the Green Party. It is now clear the Greens are wielding the power in government on key energy policy decisions.

The Government seems happy to proceed on this basis, as it means holding on to power and their ambition for a full five-year term, in spite of the potential consequences of doing so.

The Green Party’s ideology has been laid bare since the Russian invasion. After all, their policy means closing down our own national resource supply of oil and gas, meaning we must import from anywhere that will supply us, at whatever price is dictated by exporters — including Russia. Such a policy approach may go down well at Green Party meetings, but it will send this country and our people down a dangerous path.

Change is needed. Ireland must have the option of developing its own oil and gas supplies in the Celtic Sea at Barryroe, where industry projections indicate there are 365 million barrels of oil and gas. That gas has currently been accepted as a transition fuel to green alternatives.

Government policy ignores that we will continue to need natural gas to anchor our electricity network for a long time to come. Importing the fuel will not only create a much larger carbon footprint, it will be costlier and leave us extremely vulnerable to supply and price shocks.

So far, the only political group in Dáil Éireann to raise these concerns has been the Rural Independent Group.

Continuing down the current path means the cost-of-living crisis will only worsen. And when energy supplies run low, we are at the end of the pipeline, so fuel will probably be reduced to a trickle.

The only logical route available is to detangle the Government’s mistaken energy policies and ensure the development of Barryroe oil and gas, which, after all, is environmentally superior to what is being imported todayand would harness the required energy security while reducing the costs for everyone here.

John Hanafin, General secretary of the Rural Independent Group

Countryside forum will be Dublin’s echo chamber

Sir — Fine Gael, in an act of political opportunism, is fluttering its political eyelashes at Ireland’s rural community.

The party has set up a National Agricultural, Food and Rural Development Forum to provide a platform for discussion and policy formation on matters pertaining to rural affairs.

That might sound positive, but Fine Gael co-opting an ex-IFA president (Eddie Downey) as chairman sets the tone for the establishment of yet another echo chamber of big farmers. What rural Ireland needs is local and national politicians who can articulate the views of those of us who live in the countryside and who understand and engage with modern thinking.

The Irish countryside does not rely solely on farming and hunting interests.

John Tierney, Co Dublin

Time to crack down on the whip system

Sir — The disciplining of two Green TDs for backing a Sinn Féin motion on the National Maternity Hospital has again focused attention on the role of the draconian whip system.

While one might justify the cracking of a proverbial whip to push an emergency measure or maybe a Budget through the Dáil, this antiquated and oppressive method of coercing elected representatives to toe the party line is a relic of another political era.

Free votes are commonplace in the UK parliament, and the sky doesn’t fall on England if a proposed government measure is defeated now and then.

Here, it is rare for a party to recognise a politician has a conscience, quite apart from any political calculations as to what course of action will win a few votes or avoid losing any.

The whip system is undemocratic in that it often brings about a voting result that does not reflect public opinion or runs counter to what people want.

Given the reluctance of the parties to decommission their whips, I would like to see more TDs defying this legalised bullying when other issues come before the Dáil and the majority view is ignored.

Sometimes in politics, as in life generally, you have to do what you know is right as distinct from what is profitable, self-serving or politically expedient.

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny

Baffled by the great mysteries of GAA

Sir — I need a few answers. Why is approximately one-seventh of a football pitch made redundant for a kick-out? Why do so many players aim for the clouds rather than the goalposts?

Why does a referee penalise a defending player when his opponent, in possession of the ball, charges into him and collapses (in hurling and football)?

Why do referees appear to help the losing team with easy frees and a little extra time “to make a draw of it”?

Putin would probably give as good an answer as anyone as to why we still have this cursed, spoilsport “mark” in football.

Michael Teehan, Moyglass, Co Tipperary

Council gone to the dogs over beach ban

Sir — I’m writing to vouch for the innocence of my faithful four-legged friend Jake, who is to be barred by a “dog in the manger” decision of the local authority from his daily walk on Fenit beach between 11am and 7pm from June 1 to September 15.

Jake is a golden cocker spaniel who keenly anticipates his daily exercise on Fenit, where he enjoys shooting the breeze with his canine and human friends.

He minds our clothes while we are swimming at Fenit bathing slip and discourages man and dog from approaching our belongings. He has a tough growl, though he is all bark and no bite!

Jake poos on a designated spot on our lawn, but if he has to go on his walk he insists thatI bag the excreta and drop the contents into the litter bin. He has me well-trained in beach cleanliness and regularly whines about the amount of litter left on the beach by humans.

Billy Ryle, Tralee, Co Kerry

We’ve been shortchanged on €200 energy credit 

Sir — Over the last few months, we’ve all heard about the €200 credit we would be receiving on our electricity bills.

I received my electricity bill from Energia last week and was expecting the €200 government credit to be included. I looked at my bill, but instead of €200 credit it was €192.08 credit (including VAT). I rang Energia and was told the reduction in the credit was due to the reduction in the VAT rate. I realise that the difference is just €8, but come on. This is not acceptable.

We poor consumers are being taken for fools when a €200 reduction can become a €192.08 reduction just like that.

David Riedy, Newcastle West, Co Limerick

Let’s see a lot more honours for women

Sir — The fact that so few females have been granted the honorary freedom of Dublin and Limerick speaks volumes.

Truly, it could be argued this is in the main due to the dominance of males in society. This despite the fact that women have played such an important part in advancing the civic, political, economic and cultural aspects of our society.

Rose Rice, in her interesting letter of May 15, stated that only seven females have been accorded the honour in Dublin, which is currently just two more than Limerick.

Limerick Corporation only conferred the Freedom on the Hon Ishbel Maria, Countess of Aberdeen (wife of the Earl of Aberdeen, governor-general of Canada) in 1894 after they made sure there had been a precedent established.

This precedent was suffragist Margaret, Lady Sandhurst, honoured by Dublin five years earlier. It is not before time that more women were accorded this honour.

Dr Tadhg Moloney, Gouldavoher, Limerick

UL is a hedge school in a banana republic

Sir — As universities receive little attention in the media, they rarely come to the attention of the public at large, but they receive huge sums of taxpayers’ money nonetheless.

So when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) makes negative comments about some of them, we would do well to listen.

A week ago, the University of Limerick (UL) presented its financial statement for 2020 to PAC through its president, professor Kerstin Mey, and its chancellor, Mary Harney. Those who have been following this almost decade-long saga will know UL has already been judged harshly in this forum. TD Marc MacSharry observed a year ago that UL’s management was akin to that of a “hedge school in a banana republic” and whistle-
blowers had been “thrown under the bus”.

The C&AG stated that, if he had been able to, he would have “walked away” from an earlier audit of UL accounts.

On May 12, PAC chairman Brian Stanley said UL’s refusal to make available a key report from KPMG on an €8m property purchase “makes a nonsense of procedures at UL if this is how business is done there”.

Ms Harney began her reply: “That may be the case…” Fellow member, TD Verona Murphy, took from the UL president’s opening statement in presenting the accounts that the university was “striving to be the bottom of the best as opposed to the top of the worst”. She accused UL managers of “backslapping over the fact there are universities worse than theirs”.

These are shocking judgments for the Irish university world to hear. The State has the power to order an inquiry into these troubling matters, but for reasons best known in the Higher Education Department, it has declined to do so. Sadly, the reputation of academia in general, already weakened, will be further damaged by them.

Jeremy Callaghan, Caherconlish, Co Limerick

Gambling is ruining the sporting world

Sir — Allegations of match-fixing in the League of Ireland and betting irregularities leave me wondering if corruption in sport has become pervasive.

The idea that players and entire teams could be conspiring to rig games, take kickbacks and bet against themselves is shocking and destroys any credibility sport has left. The only way to stop the rot is to decommercialise sport as much as possible, rather than let it fester as the casino it has become. There is hardly a sport anywhere where doubts don’t remain over results.

The world of sport is fast becoming a world of crime, and it’s all driven by gambling.

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork

Secular regimes led to totalitarianism

Sir — In discussions of the new maternity hospital, there was a strong undertone calling for the “liberation of Irish society” from the influence of religion-based morality.

Further, there was an almost uncritical praise for an exclusively secular society in Ireland.

While admitting the wrongs done by some religious groups and leaders in the past, this does not reflect the enormous contribution of various religions to the well-being and service of all people, at home and abroad.

In my lifetime, there have been two exclusively secular regimes in Europe — Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany.

I cannot help but feel society needs the influence of churches and religion in relation to moral and ethical issues.

Mícheál Mac Greil, Cathair na Mart, Co Mhaigh Eo


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