Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien says landlords must be retained in the rental market.

Tax measures may need review to keep landlords from exiting the rental market, says minister

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien indicated that tax breaks may be needed to keep ‘mom-and-pop landlords’ from selling up.

TAX MEASURES MAY need to be looked in order to keep ‘mom-and-pop landlords’ from exiting the market, according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien. 

Speaking in the Dáil today, the housing minister acknowledged there was “an issue with a shrunken” market when it came to the availability of homes to rent. 

Concerns have been mounting about the lack of available rental stock around the country in recent months.

During a Dáil debate on rent and housing issues today, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin raised concerns about the rising number of people in homelessness. 

He said the “shrinking number” of properties to rent is increasing the number of people presenting as homeless.

The minister told Ó Broin that he would be interested in hearing some of Sinn Féin’s parties plans and policies to help keep one-off and small landlords in the system. 

“We need to retain individual landlords in the system,” said the minister.

“That may require tax measures. I am assuming I will have your support to do to that potentially into the future,” said O’Brien. 

Landlords selling up

The Real Estate Alliance (REA) survey earlier this year found that landlords leaving the market accounted for almost one in four home sales in the last three months of 2021.

The group said changing legislation associated with the residential rental market had become a deterrent to non-institutional landlords, stating that the selling up of rental properties will put further pressure on the pool of property available for tenants.

In a recent parliamentary response, the housing minister said exiting of landlords from the private rental sector is a consequence of multiple factors.

“A changing regulatory environment, which has been necessary to ensure a fair and effective residential rental sector that balances tenants’ rights and landlords’ responsibilities, has resulted in a challenging compliance framework for some.

“Covid-related protections were also necessary but they may have contributed to the decision of some to leave the sector.

“In other cases, the recent rise in house prices has enabled some landlords to take the opportunity to exit negative equity. As a consequence, many have taken the opportunity to unwind their investment,” he said.

Out of control

During a debate on the rising cost of rent in the Dáil last night, Ó Broin said the rental market is continuing to spiral out of control.

“In Dublin we have seen the end of the Covid-19 flattening of rents, with a significant upward increase of 9% for new rents. This means that the average cost of a new rental in Dublin today is €23,634, which is an astonishing sum of money.

“If one tracks back through the Residential Tenancies Board reports, since 2011 rents in the capital have increased by more than 100%. They have increased by approximately 15% since the Minister took office,” he said.

“Behind all of these figures there are very real people. The impact of these rising rents is very severe. A significant number of renters, and particularly those who are losing rental tenancies and trying to secure new ones, are experiencing severe financial hardship,” he added. 

During a tetchy back-and-forth, the minister accused Ó Broin of “losing his temper again”, stating: “he cannot behave himself”.

“I never lose my temper. The Minister knows that,” replied Ó Broin, stating that “ownership declines every time Fianna Fáil is in government”.

O’Brien retorted: “It is not illegal for people to own their own homes.”

The minister said the Government had brought in a 2% cap on rent increases, which Sinn Féin supported.

“Sinn Féin has actually supported ten of the 11 pieces of legislation I have brought forward over the last 12 to 14 months. Despite this, according to Sinn Féin, we are doing everything wrong. There is a little bit of a contradiction there,” the minister pointed out.

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