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'Young people are being failed': Calls for rent freeze as average monthly rent reaches over €1,400

Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.

Image: Oireachtas TV

FIANNA FÁIL AND Sinn Féin have called for a rent freeze after a new report has shown rent prices nationally have risen by 5.2% in the last year. 

The rental report from Daft.ie for this quarter shows that the average monthly price of rent is now €1,403. 

It also shows that the price of rent in Dublin has had the slowest period of growth since mid-2012.

However, or almost four years, rents have continuously hit new record highs. The average rent at the moment is €373 higher per month than the previous peak in 2008 and almost €660 higher than the lowest price in late 2011. 

This is despite Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) laws being introduced in December 2016 by then-Housing Minister Simon Coveney in order to tackle spiralling rents. 

Under the legislation, annual rent rises are capped at 4% in certain areas.

RPZs are located in areas of the country where rents are highest and where households have the greatest difficulty finding affordable accommodation. 

Since being introduced, the laws surrounding RPZs have come in for criticism from opposition parties. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin slammed Fine Gael’s current housing policies and said “the younger people of this country have been failed and failed very badly”. 

Surely it is now time for the government to consider a rent freeze and compose a rent freeze, given the exorbitant levels of rent that people are facing.

Martin asked if Varadkar accepts that current policies are “simply not working” and that the young people of Ireland “can never look forward to the prospects of owning their own homes”. 

Responding to Martin, Varadkar acknowledged that “rents in Ireland are very high” and that it is a “real problem”. 

Varadkar said the solution to the housing crisis is two-fold – rent controls, in which he pointed to RPZs, and an increase in the supply in housing. 

“That maximum rent increase in 4% a year is working for hundreds of thousands of people who are staying in the same place that they have been renting, medium term or long term, and had it not been for those rent controls, I think those hundreds of thousands of people would have faced very high rent increases by now,” Varadkar said.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire went on to tell Varadkar that the rental crisis is “crushing families and workers” and “crippling people entirely”. 

Similar to Martin, Ó Laoghaire asked Varadkar if he will “take the steps that are required to stop these runaway rents”, adding that a rent freeze is something “real and actionable” that Fine Gael can implement. 

Varadkar said that consideration was given to a rent freeze, but added that there are constitutional issues that may make it “impossible”. 

“There’s a real concern about the unintended consequences of a rent freeze,” he said. 

Varadkar argued that a rent freeze “might cause less new supply” in the rental market. 

Increasing rents

Returning to look at the Daft.ie report, rents in Limerick have increased by 12.1% across the county and by 5.9% in the city. The biggest increase in Dublin was in the North county area which saw prices go up by 5.6% compared to last year.

The monthly price of renting a one-bed apartment in Cork and Galway city has risen by over 10% in the past year. In Galway, this now costs €988 on average while in Cork it will set you back €1,070.  

Rents were over 40% higher in Dublin on average in this quarter than the previous peak in late 2007 during the Celtic Tiger. In Meath and Louth, rents are more than double their lowest point earlier this decade.

Munster counties have seen rent price increases of 10.1% while rates in Connacht and Ulster have risen by 8.2% in recent months compared to last year. 

There are 3,500 rental homes available around the country, a 10% rise from this time last year. This is the first November in a decade where the supply of homes available to rent has improved.

Journal Media Ltd has shareholders in common with Daft.ie publisher Distilled Media Group.

With reporting by Orla Dwyer

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