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Opposition says Budget does 'nothing' for renters as minister hints at 'more permanent caps'

SocDems TD Cian O’Callaghan told the Dáil: “What does this Budget do for renters? Nothing.”

Image: Shutterstock/Per-Boge

Updated Oct 12th 2021, 7:30 PM

CHARITIES AND MEMBERS of the opposition have criticised the lack of measures for renters in Budget 2022, despite expanding relief for landlords with the aim of encouraging them into the rental market.

Although broadly welcoming the measures introduced to protect people from inflation, housing charity Focus Ireland said it was “deeply concerned” by lack of action to help people on low and middle income living in the private rental sector.

“Since the end of the Covid-related measures to protect renters, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of households who cannot afford to pay their rising rents and are in danger of losing their homes,” the charity said. 

Housing measures announced by the Government in Budget 2022 include a zoned land tax is to be introduced to encourage the use of land for building homes, an additional 14,000 Housing Assistance Payment tenancies, and relief for pre-listing expenses for landlords will be extended for another three years, “to encourage landlords to return empty properties to the market as quickly as possible”. 

When The Journal asked Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe why the Government was against Sinn Féin’s idea for a renters tax credit, Donohoe said that his “huge concern” is that this would cause rents to increase.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien also defended the government’s approach, saying they “have actually done a lot” and he pointed to commitments around property construction. 

The rental market right now in many parts of this country is dysfunctional. Rents are too expensive, we need more supply fundamentally across all different forms of housing tenure and that’s what Housing for All is about. We can’t ignore the fact that for particularly for the last few years, we’ve seen an under supply of homes, we need at least 33,000 new-builds a year and we intend to do that under Housing for All.

When it was put to him that increasing supply would not improve rental costs in the short-term for renters, O’Brien suggested that the government is to consider further caps.

“I will in the next couple of weeks be bringing in further changes to the caps on rents intended to deal with the recent increase in inflation that we’ve seen, a more permanent cap the rent increase that’s permitted out there,” he said.

Ban

SocDems TD Cian O’Callaghan however told the Dáil: “What does this Budget do for renters? Nothing. There’s nothing in this Budget for renters.”

He said that his party would implement a three-year ban on rent increases, a deposit protection scheme, and an increase in funding for inspections in the private sector.

Labour’s finance spokesperson Ged Nash said that “tomorrow, rents will still rise”.

“Waiting lists will grow. Our carbon emissions will not fall quickly enough and the gap between the minimum wage and a real Living Wage of €12.90 will only widen.” 

The Society of St Vincent de Paul’s head of social justice Dr Tricia Keilthy said they are “disappointed” to see nothing for renters living in energy inefficient homes.

“In September, SVP and Threshold published a report which detailed the much higher risk of energy poverty faced by renters and set out the steps required to ensure those in private rented accommodation are not left behind in retrofitting schemes and targets.

However, there is no commitment to extend existing energy efficiency upgrades to those in private rented accommodation at risk of energy poverty.

John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of Threshold, said:

“The National Retrofitting Scheme must include specific measures for landlords to assist with the improvement of energy efficiency for private rented housing if enhanced BER – and related carbon emissions targets for 2030 – are to be met.

“Given recent rises in fuel costs, BER improvements within the private rented sector are essential.” 

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“The commitment to increasing social, affordable and cost rental housing – which was made as part of the government’s Housing for All strategy, announced last month – will provide long-term, secure and affordable housing and will aid in stabilising the housing market,” said McCafferty.

“However, in the short to medium term, the soaring demand for private rented homes will continue, and many households will rent for life.”

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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