Coveney claims rent caps are working

Simon Coveney, the former housing minister, has insisted caps on rent increases have worked despite anger over figures which show rates are still rising sharply.

With the average rent in Dublin City now at €1,741 a month — up 12% on a year ago — the Government was accused of failing renters by not taking radical action to solve the crisis.

Student representatives have met with Mary Mitchell O’Connor, super junior minister for higher education, amid the scramble for accommodation ahead of the college term.

A report yesterday warned supply was to blame for rents still rising despite the introduction last year of an annual cap of 4% for rents.

Asked if his rent cap plan had worked, Mr Coveney, now foreign affairs minister, said: “Yes... If you look at the areas where the rent cap applies, it certainly has helped put downward pressure on rent inflation. That was the whole point of that strategy and that has worked to a certain extent. But that isn’t going to solve the problem for people. The main issue here is supply. We need to put temporary measures in place to limit rental inflation which is what we have done and we will continue to do that while it is needed.”

The report has prompted fresh criticism of the Government’s housing programme.

Labour housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said the report showed the absolute failure of the Government’s rent pressure zone model to slow the pace of increases.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger said public and affordable housing must be built on a “major scale”.

Social Democrats councillor Gart Gannon said soaring rent costs and a chronic lack of rental properties were putting enormous economic and emotional pressures on families.

“People in their 20s and 30s, including third-level students and people with young families, have no choice but to live at home with their parents. More and more we are seeing three generations of families living under the one roof,” he said.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor appealed for those struggling to find accommodation to consider digs. She said she would apply pressure on university bosses to fast-track student accommodation building.

Damien English, the junior housing minister, said the Government hopes to end the use of B&Bs and hotels as emergency accommodation for the homeless this autumn.

The process could come to a stop by September, he told RTÉ. Families would be in new homes or hubs by the autumn, said Mr English, adding that

he does not see the number of homeless people reaching 10,000 — despite already topping 8,000.

Elsewhere, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is understood to be close to an agreement with Airbnb to enforce laws on breaches of planning by landlords who ditch long-term letting for commercial short-term lets.

Speaking in Cork, Transport Minister Shane Ross said the Independent Alliance was unhappy with how the issue was being dealt with and would hold a meeting to see if it could arrive at any solutions. “We think that it’s going too slowly. We’re not happy with the way it is going forward at the moment and we are going to have a meeting of the Independent Alliance about it in the very near future when we come back.”


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