An emergency freeze on rent increases across the country is needed, as well as a ban on landlords demanding three months’ rent up front, junior jobs minister John Halligan has declared.
The Independent Alliance minister said the 4% cap on rent rises had “failed “and further State intervention was needed to protect vulnerable renters amid spiralling rates.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, the Waterford TD said the alliance would push for some of these reforms in the Government’s review of its housing programme, due next month.
Addressing the recent phenomenon of some landlords demanding two months rent up front on top of a deposit, Mr Halligan said this was scandalous and must be legislated against.
“I swear that some effort should be made and I know the Independent Alliance will attempt to do this, to bring in some legislation that will not allow them to do that,” he said. “You also cannot have landlords looking for three months upfront. This is outrageous what they are doing, unbelievable — we are way ahead of the rest of Europe. Even the cost of living in other parts of Europe is higher than what we have here and yet we are charging more.”
Recent Daft figures show rents are 66% higher than during the crash, the national average is €1,131, and rates in Dublin have reached €1,690 a month.
Many rents were already way beyond normal rates, particularly in Dublin, said Mr Halligan.
“I know a girl in a three- bedroom house and they are paying €2,500,” he said. “That is scandalous. There should be legislation brought in.”
Mr Halligan says he and the alliance will feed into the Government’s review of its housing programme by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, due to be completed next month.
He said the recent 4% cap on increases needed to be replaced with an emergency freeze on rises for at least a year.
“In fairness, I don’t think that any reasonable person in Fine Gael would not see that there is a serious problem with accommodation and the with the cost of rent. It [the cap] has failed,” he said. “So we need to bring in proper legislation. I think that we should sit down over the next couple of months and do it as quickly as we can.
“I think you have to find some way of bringing in a cap. We should now formulate legislation that is corrective and decisive to say that a total cap across the board for at least a year. No increases at all.”
Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said the phenomenon of landlords demanding two months’ rent and a deposit was ongoing.
“There is no law against this,” he said. “Some of these are institutional landlords and then the small and medium ones do too. It wipes out the possibility of renting for low income tenants.”
The housing agency chief said a one month deposit rule needed to be enshrined in law and a deposit protection scheme be enacted.
Asked about landlords demanding multiple months as deposits up front, the Residential Tenancies Board said there were no guidelines on how much of a deposit a landlord could demand. The “normal practice” though, said the board, was that one month’s rent is paid.
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