Rent freeze proposal being kept 'under review', says housing minister

Rent freeze proposal being kept 'under review', says housing minister

Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Darragh O'Brien says the Government is open to ideas that would bring down rent costs. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

The Government has not ruled out implementing a rent freeze to help with soaring costs, with the housing minister saying he is keeping the idea 'under review'.

Darragh O'Brien told the Irish Examiner the Government is "absolutely open" to all ideas which would bring down costs and help tackle inflation.

Various temporary rent freezes were put in place during the pandemic in a bid to curtail evictions, but calls are now being made for a longer freeze to help renters deal with rising costs.

"Yes, the cost of living is an issue — the Taoiseach has said that, the Tánaiste has said that as well. It's something we're very focused on in government. It isn't just an Irish phenomenon either, every economy in Western Europe has inflationary pressure," Mr O'Brien said

"We are absolutely open to looking at a number of options as to how we can deal with rising costs. In relation to energy, we've put the energy credit on people's bills — the Taoiseach has said that if we need to do more, we will."

Mr O'Brien admitted it would likely be towards the middle of the summer before people would see any real levelling-off of price increases, but he said the scaling-up of building affordable homes was "an intervention in cost — providing affordable homes for working people".

"That is crucially important that we ramp up our delivery and that's what we're doing. There are positive things in relation to construction, in relation to new commencements, in relation to planning permissions, and mortgage drawdowns. Our affordability measures are going to work and that's going to help people with the biggest cost most people have — a mortgage or their rent.

He said "all options" will be looked at with regard to helping people "and that's the collective decision the Cabinet will make."

In the Dáil on Wednesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called on the Government to "institute a three-year freeze on rents"

"Last year alone, rents increased by over 8%. Today the average rent is now over €1,300 a month, and in Dublin the average is a staggering €1,916 per month, almost €2,000. This is extortionate," she said.

Labour's Housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has also called for a freeze, saying it could be done.

"What we need now is a rent freeze to stem the crisis in the rental market while we wait for more supply to come on stream. We know we can have an effective rent freeze, because Alan Kelly introduced this very measure for two years in 2015. It has been done before and can be done again."

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