Fears rent caps will discourage developers and cut supply

Rent caps or controls will stop developers building and therefore reduce the supply of housing, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has suggested.

Tánaiste Joan Burton also said yesterday that 100,000 properties rented for social housing through landlords and property owners needed to remain available.

Their comments come after landlords this week warned TDs and senators that they would withdraw co-operation with rent supplement tenants and social housing if any rent controls are introduced.

Government ministers are divided over whether “rent certainty” or rent controls linked to the cost of living should be introduced for a number of years to help address escalating rent costs in cities.

A Cabinet sub-committee is expected to meet and discuss Environment Minister Alan Kelly’s plans on the issue next week.

But Mr Coveney, speaking in Cork yesterday, said a cap on rents would scare away developers, at a time when house building has slowed to a halt and there is a lack of supply in cities: “If you cap rents the one sure result of that is developers will stop building because if developers feel that the market isn’t going to decide what they can charge for rent and instead Government is going to decide that, well then I don’t think we’ll get people investing in building and that is the problem.

“We will obviously look at the rental issue over the next few weeks. There’s ongoing conversations about that.

“I’m not saying we’re not going to do anything about that but I don’t think the primary focus here should be rent controls in a way that actually disincentives people from building new housing units which is ultimately what we need to do.”

The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) this week sent arguments against rent certainty as wellas existing costs for investors to all TDs and senators.

The group said rent controls would be “invalid”, “unconstitutional”, and an “unjust attack on the property rights of certain landlords”. But the group also said its members would refuse to deal with social housing tenants and those on rent supplement schemes if rent controls are introduced.

Labour leader Joan Burton yesterday warned against such a scenario. She said the Government paid for 65,000 properties through rent supplement and local authorities paid for another 30,000-plus: “We want to see all of those properties remaining available to people who need social renting.”

She also said she wanted a “framework”of “structured reviews” of rents.

One option being examined is strengthening the Private Residential Tenancies Board’s role in vetting rents. Over a year ago the board said rent controls would make the situation worse.


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