Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin said Varadkar's legacy is a country of “sky-high rents” and “spiralling high prices”.
Housing Crisis

Varadkar urges Central Bank to get mortgage lending rules review done 'as soon as possible'

The rules restrict the amount someone can borrow to 3.5 times their income, though there are exemptions.

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has called on the Central Bank to get its review of its mortgage lending rules “as soon as possible”. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, he said the measures were put in place to promote financial stability after the crash and to prevent a future banking crisis.

The rules restrict the amount someone can borrow to 3.5 times their income, though there are exemptions. 

Varadkar said he welcomed the review being carried out over this year and into next year, but urged the review to be expedited and completed as soon as possible. 

He said it was important and right that a public consultation will be carried out as part as the review, stating that it important to hear the voices of those caught in the rental trap. 

The Tánaiste said a lot of people are paying rents of €1,800 or more, but they cannot get a mortgage that would mean they would be paying a lower amount.

People find that hard to accept, he said, “as do I”, he added.

The Central Bank said Ireland can learn from the experiences of other countries, and will question whether the tools currently in place are the most appropriate ones. The bank says it is also eager to hear from the public. 

Much of the debate during Leaders’ Questions centered on the housing crisis. Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin said Varadkar’s legacy is a country of  “sky-high rents” and “spiralling high prices”. 

He accused the Tanaiste of leading a party of “privilege” and “rising housing costs”.

He made the comments after figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week showed that more than three quarters of renters who share accommodation with others believe they will never own a home.

“These are the casualties of 10 years of Fine Gael’s housing policy,” O Broin added.

“Tanaiste, you’ve sat at the Cabinet table for those 10 years. These stories and the hardships are your legacy.

“In 2011 when you joined the Cabinet the average price of a new home in Dublin was €318,000.

“Today it is €503,000, half a million euros.”

The Sinn Fein housing spokesman said that during Fine Gael’s time in office, house prices have increased by 88% across the State, and 95% in Dublin.

“That, Tanaiste, is your legacy,” O Broin added.

“In 2011, the average cost of renting across the state was €781 per month.

“Today, the average cost is 1,256, that’s an extra €6,000 a year on rent.

“In Dublin, the situation is even worse. Average rents have increased from €960 per month to €1,745.

“That’s almost €10,000 a year extra on rent for average renters, that is your legacy – spiralling high prices and sky-high rents.”

He added: “When you were elected leader of Fine Gael, you said you wanted to represent those who get up early in the morning to go to work.

“The only people I see your Government represent are big developers and big landlords, throwing around sweetheart deals and sweetheart land deals like confetti.

“I have to say it’s become increasingly clear that Fine Gael is not the party of hard-working people. It is a party of privilege, and a party of ever rising housing costs.”

Varadkar defended his party’s stance on housing, but added that he wanted to increase the housing budget.

He said that 65% of people in Ireland own their own home through policies introduced by his party.

“It’s because of policies and decisions made by my party and the Fianna Fail party and Labour and Greens and others in years gone by,” Varadkar added.

“I know that’s not a reality for hundreds of thousands of people in the State, for whom home ownership is a dream, a distant possibility, and that has to change.

“The Government gets that too and that’s why we’ve taken actions in order to help people buy their first home, for example the Help to Buy programme, which has helped tens of thousands of people to get a deposit to buy a home, something opposed by Sinn Fein.”

Varadkar said that the main solution to the housing crisis is more supply of housing of all forms.

Varadkar said: “The housing budget and the budget for social housing, that’s under consideration at the moment.”

He added that he wanted to increase the housing budget “as much as possible”, but added there are other demands.

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