Fianna Fáil: Up rent allowance and build 45,000 social houses

Fianna Fáil has called for a 5% rise in rent supplement; a rent cap scheme that would outlaw increases of more than 10% at any one time; and the building of 45,000 more social houses to tackle the crippling housing crisis.

However, the Government claims the plan is simply a re-hash of existing policies; while Sinn Féin alleges it involves tax breaks for landlords and “fast-tracking evictions” while giving just €13 extra to rent supplement recipients.

The opposition party outlined how it plans to address the growing housing crisis at the launch of its ‘Generation rent’ policy document yesterday.

Speaking at the launch in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin, environment spokesman Barry Cowen said he plans to increase rent allowance by 5% and ban rent rises of more than 10% if elected to government.

He also said his party will impose new “family tenure” measures for long-term renters to give them security on where they will live, and create a “deposit retention scheme”, whereby deposits will be held by an independent body instead of landlords to reduce disputes.

The Laois-Offaly TD said “involuntary” landlords who are renting out homes or rooms in houses bought between 2000 and 2009 to pay debts will also be given full mortgage relief, while other tax incentives will also be given.

Mr Cowen said the Government’s plans have failed to address these matters, meaning some children are now “sleeping in parks” with their families.

Describing the recent suggestion to move people at risk of homelessness in Dublin to rural areas as “crazy”, he said in his own Laois-Offaly constituency 40% of calls he receives are about housing and that 2,200 people are on the area’s social housing waiting list.

“We are in the business of being constructive in our opposition but taking responsibility for the mandate that we have.

“Rent is becoming completely unaffordable for many and the quality of accommodation is far below standard. As it stands there are no incentives for landlords to stay in the system,” he said.

Despite the proposals, the opposition party’s plans have already faced a backlash, with Government, rival parties and landlords criticising the measures.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Alan Kelly last night said Fianna Fáil’s plan is simply a “re-hash” of existing coalition policies and will add little to the debate.

He added that while a rent cap limiting an increase to 10% had been advocated, this 10% cut-off point is already in place under existing legislation.

Sinn Féin was equally critical of the proposals, saying neither the coalition nor Fianna Fáil have any “credibility” when it comes to housing in Ireland.

“Everything this Government has done in its failure to tackle the housing crisis has been in line with the legacy left by Fianna Fáil.

“They cannot be trusted to deal with housing,” said Sinn Féin housing spokesman Dessie Ellis.


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