The Government’s rental proposals have finally passed through the Dáil after days of wrangling, negotiations and tense discussion.
Landlords will now be prevented from raising rents by more then 4% each year in the “rent pressure zones” of Dublin and Cork.Other areas will also be examined and the zones could be extended in the coming months.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney said getting the controversial bill passed took “genuine co-operation” from all sides.
But Fianna Fáil almost put a halt to the proposals before they even made it to the chamber and late-night discussions were held earlier this week.
But as the measures were passing through the Dáil, landlords threatened to impose a number of levies in response.
The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA), which represents 5,000 landlords, said they would withdraw from state rental schemes and would introduce car parking fees, service charges, registration fees, documentation costs, and property tax charge.
IPOA chairman Stephen Faughnan said the measures are so severe that rents will not cover costs.
After almost six hours of debate on Thursday and a further four hours of discussion yesterday the first of over 100 amendments was passed.
The slow pace of debate meant that bringing back the Dáil today was considered. However, it is understood that Dáil staff had major issues around working over the weekend and it was also deemed easier to sit on Monday if necessary and have the Seanad sit later next week.
At 6pm, chief whip Regina Doherty announced that the Dáil would sit for a further two hours and pleaded with TDs to speed up proceedings as much as possible. Following this a raft of amendments were dealt with in a matter of minutes. The bill was finally passed by 52 to 43 votes with 25 abstentions.
Earlier, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen questioned whether an error in the way the law was written was in fact a mistake.
It had been found that the wording of the bill actually allowed for an 8% increase in rents in the first year and not the intended 4%.
“I would like to believe the minister, and I have to believe him, but he must understand that genuinely one could be forgiven in finding it hard to accept that this was just a drafting error,” Mr Cowen said.
Mr Coveney told the Dáil that the new wording drafted after the error was pointed out was “both constitutional and legally sound”.
Independent Catherine Connolly claimed the minister had reduced the housing crisis to an equation.
“He forgets the meaning of the word ‘equation’. Raising rents equates to homelessness. This is the equation we should examine.”
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