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Action on rental sector 'does not necessarily' need to be on Budget day, says Varadkar

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is pushing for tax breaks for landlords and a tax credit for renters.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

BUDGET DAY IS not the only time the Government can take action in the rental sector, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking to reporters in Monaghan today, Varadkar indicated that any action taken to deal with the rental crisis does “not necessarily have to be tied to that particular announcement”. 

When asked if he thinks it would be a gaping hole in the Budget if there is not some measure specifically for renters, he said he is very much of the view that “we need to make sure that there are more properties available for rent, whether that’s private rental properties, whether it’s cost rental properties which are provided by Government”.

“I’d never take the view that the budget is the only time when the government can take action.

“You know, we take action on any number of issues before a Budget day on Budget day and after Budget day, so I don’t think things necessarily have to be tied to that particular announcement,” he said. 

His comments come amidst recent kite-flying over the last week that tax breaks for landlords, as well as help for renters might feature in the Budget in September.

However, sources state that while there is a push to get something specific for landlords and renters into the budget, that it may be unlikely.

Reasons cited for his is it could be “too expensive” to do anything meaningful, particularly when there will already be a tax package for two million workers, they said.

Despite some attempts to temper hopes that some respite could be given to renters who are facing sky-rocketing rents, as well as to landlords looking to leave the market, it is understood that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is pushing for tax breaks for small landlords and tax credits for renters. 

The minister is understood to be of the view that giving landlords a greater return will keep them in the market, and in turn would provide longer tenure to tenants. 

Sources state that any tax credit for tenants would be difficult to apply selectively, stating that questions are being asked about it being a universal measure.

It is understood that at Government level there is also recognition that if something is announced for landlords, there would have to be something to provide relief to renters. 

Despite Varadkar’s comments today, the Tánaiste did say last week that he thought tax breaks for landlords would be a good idea. 

“I do think that if there are any significant income tax or tax concessions for landlords in the budget, well there should be for renters as well,” he said last week.

The dire rental market situation was highlighted yesterday evening, when dozens of people queued for over an hour for a house viewing in Dublin. 

The most recent report which finds that Ireland’s rental market has dropped to new depths as the number of homes available has dropped to an all-time low while the rate of inflation in prices climbed to its highest level in at least 15 years.

The property website’s latest rental report finds that rents in the second quarter of this year climbed to an average of 12.6% higher than the same period of 2021.

The Tánaiste said today that there are any number of options on the table for the budget, but none of them have actually been considered by government yet, “and that won’t happen for another couple of weeks”, he said.

The budget will have a welfare package to help pensioners, people on welfare, as well as working people to hang on to more of the money that they earn, he said. 

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