Rent pressure zones the sticking point in stalling deal

Efforts to agree rent caps stalled temporarily yesterday after a clash between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over rent pressure zones.

The standoff would only make families struggling with rents stress more, claimed some TDs, as Housing Minister Simon Coveney withdrew the Bill.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald came under attack in the Dáil during Leaders questions while talks between the two parties were ongoing outside the chamber.

In chaotic moments during the closing week before the Dáil’s Christmas break, TDs accused the Fine Gael government of hitting tenants with rent hikes.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said that “the antics of Fine Gael, and its colleagues in Fianna Fáil” had made matters worse for the housing crisis: “Fine Gael has added to those families’ stress, to their anxiety and to their worry. Fine Gael has done nothing to alleviate the fear of renters.”

She said the best way to help renters would be to link rent increases to CPI or inflation: “It was the view of the cross-party Dáil Committee on Housing and Homelessness, including its Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil members.

“It is a position widely supported by tenancy advocacy organisations, by homeless charities, by housing policy experts.”

Minister Fitzgerald defended the measures, claiming there was also a need to protect supply.

The Government rent plan involves 4% rent rise caps and some areas being designated ‘rent pressures zones’.

But talks broke down on Wednesday, amid Fianna Fáil demands for other areas beyond Dublin and Cork city to be declared zones.

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett was critical, saying: “The only certainty the Government is offering is the certainty of unaffordable rents, more evictions and exorbitant, extortionate profits for landlords.

“How the hell is somebody on average earnings or, God forbid, on less than average earnings in south Dublin to pay even the existing average rent of €2,280 per month for a three-bedroom house? Then the Minister thinks it is acceptable to increase the rent by 12%.”

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