Radical operation transformation required for rental market

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–  Laissez-faire approach has failed spectacularly
–  Actions needed to secure tenants’ rights and reduce rent inflation

Immediate measures must be implemented across the country to strengthen tenants’ rights. That’s according to National Housing Charity, Threshold, who urges that actions are required to more effectively promote compliance among landlords and lower rent inflation.

John-Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive Officer, was responding to today’s (10.02.19) Daft.ie Rental Price Report, which covers the fourth quarter of 2018. The report indicates a 9.8% per cent increase in listed rents nationally in 2018, pushing national average rents to an all-time high of €1,347.

Before Christmas 2018 the Government introduced a Bill to make changes to Residential Tenancies legislation. Threshold welcomed most of the measures, but cautioned that the new legislation was a missed opportunity. Commenting, Mr McCafferty said: “In the coming weeks the Government has a real chance of making a difference to the ever increasing number of people in the private rented sector. The new Bill has the potential to deliver tangible benefits to the many thousands of people living in rented accommodation who face a lack of both rent certainty and security of tenure.”

 “The pace and extent of rent increases year on year remains unsustainable for many people – including young professionals, key workers such as nurses, those earning the minimum wage and people in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment.”

Threshold is calling for a nationwide extension of the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs). Mr McCafferty said, “We cannot continue to have a two-tiered rented sector of those within the RPZs and those outside of them. All tenants should be afforded equal protection, regardless of geography. At the same time, the RPZs are due to expire in Dublin and Cork in less than 320 days’ time. The need to safeguard the RPZs in the longer term, in areas of such high rents, cannot be overstated.

“The immediate introduction of a clear and transparent dwelling-specific rent register is equally crucial for the proper enforcement of RPZ legislation. In the absence of a clear and transparent rent register, those seeking accommodation have no means of knowing the previous rent being paid for a property. As a result, RPZ measures cannot currently be enforced.”

“Earlier this week, the Economic Social and Research Institute and the Oireachtas Housing Committee echoed our concerns about an over-heating housing sector and an over reliance on HAP to provide for social housing, given the lack of security of tenure in private rented housing,” Mr McCafferty added.

“There are 10,000 children and adults in emergency accommodation; a housing list of up to 100,000 households; and a hidden homeless population who are unaccounted for. Our Tenancy Protection Service – Threshold’s free, confidential support for renters who are worried about losing their home – prevents many families from moving into homelessness every week. Alongside homelessness prevention such as ours, further policies are required. These include stronger rights for tenants and the delivery of housing supply – particularly in terms of the construction and completion of both social and affordable rental housing”, Mr McCafferty concluded.

Commenting further, Threshold Chairperson Aideen Hayden, added “In addition to improving security for those renting from a private landlord we must acknowledge that systemic change is needed. We have been here before and we must act now to avoid the boom bust cycles that have dogged Irish housing for decades. We will never have a stable housing system that suits the Irish people unless we have a robust public housing system. We need one third of our housing in public ownership,” she said. “Moreover we must acknowledge that a serious number of those families at risk in the rented sector would have been living in social homes in different times. The system has failed and we must act to correct it. “

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