Boost for tenants as plans to freeze rent hikes for thousands
Environment Minister Alan Kelly has been given the green light by the Attorney General to introduce temporary rent controls in order to stabilise the rental market.
The move will see thousands of families have their accommodation bills effectively frozen as the Government moves to tackle the "scandalous" practice of repeated rent hikes by landlords.
Mr Kelly is to introduce measures which will tie rent to the rate of inflation in a move that will give tenants certainty in relation to their living costs.
The Herald can reveal that the central plank of the strategy of tying rent to the rate of inflation has recently been given the green light by Attorney General Maire Whelan.
It is expected to be introduced as a temporary measure and as part of a wider plan to reform the rental market in Ireland.
"By tying rent to inflation, you are giving families certainty over their bills for a number of years - that's crucial to giving them a sense of security," said a Government source.
Mr Kelly is expected to seek Cabinet approval for his proposals in the coming weeks.
Setting rent against inflation is likely to cause concern in Fine Gael whose ministers are sceptical about introducing such measures.
But Labour Party sources insist the move is essential in tackling "scandalous" rent hikes by landlords and ensuring young couples do not fall into so-called "rent traps".
Mr Kelly's rent plan will also contain incentives for landlords who carry out refurbishment work on their properties and who agree to enter into longer 'continental style' leases with their tenants.
An estimated 305,000 households are currently renting in Ireland with a third of people in this category unlikely to be able to afford a home in the future.
Tackling spiralling rent prices is seen as one the last major Government policy decisions required before the Coalition decides to call a general election.