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Govt accused of making 'dog's dinner' of rental crisis, as new rent cap law not ready until November

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said inflation is now running at over 4.3%.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been accused of making a “dog’s dinner” in dealing with rising rents by linking rent hikes to inflation.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said inflation is now running at over 4.3%, meaning a tenant subject to a landlord’s review today could see the rent pushed up by 4.3%.

“Somebody in Dublin paying the average rent of €1,848 per month could see the rent increased by a landlord by over €950 per year,” he said.

Since July, rent increases must be linked to inflation. The measure was introduced as there were concerns that landlords were imposing rent increases of up to 8% on tenants once the temporary ban on evictions and a rent freeze during lockdown was lifted.

With inflation now outstripping the previous 4% limit, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has promised to put caps on rises of “considerably less” than 3%.

“We’ve seen a very short-term increase in inflation, a spike in inflation, so I’m going to address that. I’d expect to have that in the House in November and get it passed before the end of the year. So we’re looking at substantially lower than 3%,” he said yesterday.

Rents across Ireland grew by 7% on an annual basis in the second quarter of 2021, an increase that the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) flagged yesterday as a “source of concern”.

Last night, the Dáil rejected a Sinn Féin motion calling for immediate rent freeze and a renters’ tax credit. The government’s counter motion said the new system of rent caps will be introduced “in the coming weeks”. 

Defending the Government’s position in the Dáil today, Ryan said five pieces of legislation has been introduced for the rental sector.

“While many of which may have related to Covid emergency measures, there is no shortage of ambition to address the rental crisis,” he said. He said the housing minister intends to urgently progress a specific new renters Bill to address the headline inflation rate being above 4%, “an issue which was not expected”.

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“He will introduce a Bill in the House in the coming weeks that will address the issue, in recognition that we have to afford renters protection at this time of higher than expect inflation,” he concluded.

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