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Opportunity to reform the private rented sector must be grasped – Ó Broin

12 December, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

In advance of the launch of the Government’s strategy for the private rented sector, Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has stated that Minister Simon Coveney has a “unique opportunity to bring forward ambitious reforms”. 

Deputy Ó Broin said: 

“Minister Coveney is due to bring forward his strategy for the private rented sector tomorrow. We all know this sector is in urgent need of reform. The Minister’s focus on the supply issue alone will not provide any relief to over 700,000 struggling with increasing rental costs. Greater protections for an ever increasing number of tenants must form the cornerstone of this strategy.

“We hope that despite the Minister’s reluctance to support it in the past, rent certainty will be part of the government’s plan. We urgently need to put a halt to spiralling rental costs. Neither the tenant nor the landlord benefits from seismic peaks and troughs in rental prices. Linking rent increases and decreases to an index like the consumer price index provides certainty to both parties.

“There is no evidence that indicates that introducing this measure would lead to landlords exiting the market. 

“Rent certainty must be introduced in tandem with greater security of tenure. Sinn Féin would like to see the option of tenancies of indefinite duration introduced. The notion of the private rented sector being transient in nature, where students dominate needs to be dismissed. One quarter of people in Dublin are now living in the private rented sector. In order to build sustainable communities, there must be some move towards providing for five, ten or twenty year leases. We would also like to see tenants protected by removing the sale of the home as a reason for evicting tenants. This measure would help many families avoid homelessness. 

“A functioning private rented sector needs landlords. We would like to see the Minister committing to a review of the tax treatment of landlords in advance of Budget 2018. There needs to be parity in how the 65% of Landlords that own just one property are treated and how institutional landlords are treated.

“Finally, we would like to see the Minister making a commitment to increase resources and funding for local authority inspections and for the work of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Renters should not have to put up with sub-standard accommodation and the RTB must be adequately funded so that landlord- tenant disputes are resolved speedily.

“We acknowledge that increases the supply of housing will at some point alleviate some pressure on this sector. However the Minister cannot rely on this alone. Government intervention in this volatile market is now urgently needed. We hope to see rent certainty and increased security of tenure forming a key part of government strategy going forward.” 

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