Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said rent regulations in place since 2017 are simply “not working” and there are too many loopholes in place to prevent rents from soaring higher.
He was speaking to RTÉ News at 1 after a new report from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) showed that rents across the country had risen on average by 7% in Q2 of 2021 as the country gradually emerged from the third Covid lockdown.
Mr Ó’Brien said the figures show that while a rent cap of 4% may have been in place in rental pressure zones (RPZ) the reality is that rents are increasing at a much higher rate than that.
.@RTBinfo Q2 rent report just out— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) September 30, 2021
🆘Grim reading for renters🆘
Double digit inflation in 9 counties
All counties above 4% with many approaching 10%
Govt has no plan to stop runaway rents pic.twitter.com/JvM8XYYMMT
The figures also showed a decline in the availability of lower-cost properties as landlords exit the private rental market further with improving property prices.
The RTB also drew attention to non-compliance by landlords with the RPZ legislation and the government’s housing minister Daragh O’Brien has ordered the watchdog to tackle the issue with a targeted campaign.
However, Mr Ó Broin said the minister “can call all he wants on the RTB to do more about it. It’s not going to have any impact” as the regulations in place are flawed and not enforceable.
He added that the RTB is doing the best work it can but does not have the resources or capability to effectively regulate the market within current legislation.
Current government action is not enough to address the costs of spiraling rent either, he said, as linking rent increases to inflation under the new regulations in place since July is not as effective as the rent freeze that Sinn Féin is calling for.
Mr Ó Broin said wages are not rising at the same rate as inflation to meet these possible rent increases in the future after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the government’s new regulation was an effective rent freeze.
“In the month that Darragh O’Brien introduced that change linking rent reviews to the harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP), the HICP was 1.9%, it then rose to 2.2% and then the following month to 3%.
“And most economists suggest that there is going to be a continued upwards trend. What that means is a tenant can get a rent increase within the rules of 3%, that’s not a rent freeze.
“And if inflation continues to rise, rent will rise with it,” he said.