January 27, 2017
Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy TD, has questioned the basis on which rent pressure zones have been designated by Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney TD.
Ms Murphy said “a day after the announcement by Government, the Housing Agency report, which was used to determine the new zones, has not been published by the Government or the Agency. That in itself speaks volumes.
It is unbelievable that cities like Waterford and Limerick could be excluded from the rent pressure zones. It is equally ludicrous that towns such as Trim and Navan are excluded when other towns in Meath are on the list. Similarly, why should Greystones be excluded when other towns in Wicklow are designated zones?
In compiling the report, the Housing Agency relied upon a mix of data from the Residential Tenancies Board and property letting websites. However, there are serious problems with the Residential Tenancies Board data as it inherently underestimates the cost of rents.
When the Social Democrats sought tenancy data from the Residential Tenancies Board last month, we were told that the data could not be provided. By way of explanation we were told:
“Under section 139 of the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord should inform the RTB of any change in the rent payable under a tenancy. However, many landlords fail to update us of same…”
It is no wonder that people who are struggling to pay rent in towns such as Maynooth and Kilkock are losing out when the Minister is relying on dodgy data.
Equally, the property letting website data can underestimate real rent. There is much anecdotal evidence emerging of bidding on rents. Young couples have told us that they are turning up to viewings to find that top-up bids have been sought on the advertised rent. So the advertised asking prices are not reliable either.
This is a farcical situation and it is impossible to have any confidence in the way in which rent pressure zones have been selected.
The whole approach is wrong. A far fairer approach would be to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index. The Social Democrats supported a Bill in Dáil Éireann just a few weeks ago to do just that but Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael ensured it did not pass.
27th January 2017