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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 29 January, 2020

Government to extend enforcement of Rent Pressure Zones until 2021

RPZ laws were first introduced in December 2016 to address spiraling rents.

Capital Dock on Dublin's Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, the tallest apartment block in Ireland
Capital Dock on Dublin's Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, the tallest apartment block in Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that it plans to increase the time that Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) are in place until the end of 2021.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney announced the move in the Dáil today, when he revealed that the Government had agreed to a number of changes to the law regulating RPZs.

“The Government has made a decision today to extend Rent Pressure Zones until the end of 2021, but also to change how the qualification criteria for Rent Pressure Zones are actually calculated,” he said.

RPZ laws were first introduced in December 2016, when Coveney was then Minister for Housing, as a way to address spiraling rents, but were set to begin expiring later this year.

Under the laws, annual rent rises can not increase by more than 4% in areas considered RPZs.

The zones are located in parts of the country where rents are highest and where households have the greatest difficulty finding affordable accommodation. 

This afternoon, Coveney implied that the Government would seek to separate the criteria from Dublin from the rest of the country, due to the higher cost of renting in the capital.

“One of the qualification criteria of [rents] having to be over the national average is a criteria that needs to change for outside of Dublin,” he said, adding that Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy would outline the agreed changes in coming days.

Short-term solution

The announcement comes a week after two more parts of the country – Limerick City East and Navan – were deemed to have met the criteria to become RPZs.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin said, who questioned Coveney about the legislation before his announcement, welcomed the news in a statement this afternoon.

But she also cautioned that while the move would provide some with a “significant relief”, RPZs were still a short-term solution that showed no ambition for rental communities.

“With growing numbers in long-term rental situations we need long-term solutions to affordability and security,” she said. “Ad hoc approaches simply won’t suffice.”

The laws surrounding RPZs have also come in for criticism in recent months

In November, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD said the zones were not working for new entrants to the rental market or people who had to move home.

“The Rent Pressure Zone legislation is failing new entrants to the rental market,” he said.

“Asking for new lets are very clearly circumventing the 4% cap and this is adding to the housing affordability crisis.”

With additional reporting from Hayley Halpin.

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