Landlord TDs ‘slow to address rent crisis’

An anti-austerity councillor has linked the slow progress in tackling the spiralling rental and accommodation crisis to the fact that almost a quarter of all TDs are landlords.

AAA Cork city councillor Mick Barry said a “clear conflict of interests” exists between the State’s landlord TDs and delays introducing possible solutions such as laws on rent controls.

“There is a rental accommodation crisis and no real action coming from Dáil Éireann to address it,” Mr Barry said.

“You don’t have to be a genius to work out that a Dáil, with a couple of landlords, would address this, compared to the situation we have where a Dáil stuffed to the gills full of landlords – with landlord interests at heart – are slow to address it.

“There are basic measures such as introducing a major programme of social housing building and a national rent freeze, which could make significant contribution to tackling this crisis.

“So anyone who thinks the fact that there are 41 landlord TDs in Dáil Éireann has nothing to do with the fact that there’s been no real action on this issue, would want to be a little naive.”

Mr Barry was reacting to the Daft.ie report which shows rents are rising in every county, with an “extraordinarily tight” supply of only 4,600 properties available to rent across the State.

That compares with 6,800 rented properties on the market a year earlier, and much lower than the 23,000 properties available to rent six years ago.

In Dublin, there is only 2,000 properties available, though rents in the capital are rising at a slower pace than in many other cities.

Daft.ie’s research also shows rents in Cork city are the fastest rising in the State — soaring by 10.4% in the year to an average of €889.

Galway recorded an increase of 10.1% to €818, with Limerick rents increasing by 8.9% to €718, while Waterford saw an increase of 8.2% in the year to €629.

UCD Students’ Union President, Marcus O’Halloran, said all the available data for housing in Ireland is pointing to a crisis caused by a cramped, overcrowded rental sector.

Mr Barry said that freezing rents and launching a major investment programme in social housing were two basic measures which could be introduced but he said they would conflict with the interests of landlord TDs.

He pointed to an article by Dr Rory Hearne in the Irish Examiner in October 2014 which showed, at that time, former Justice Minister Alan Shatter had owned 14 rental properties, Tom Barry TD and Frank Feighan TD had each owned 10, and John McGuinness TD had owned eight.

Cork North West Fine Gael TD Aine Collins, who owns two rental properties, dismissed Mr Barry’s criticism and said TDs are acutely aware of the issues, and are working to develop a balanced solution.

“We’ve gone from a situation where we were building 95,000 homes a year at a time when we needed 25,000, to building 5,000 when we need 25,000. We are playing catch up,” she said.

But while she ruled out a rent cap on consumer law grounds, she said the government was working on measures to incentivise or support developers to build more houses to ease the supply issue.


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