herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Kelly denies rent hikes happened as a result of government squabble

USI President Kevin Donoghue
USI President Kevin Donoghue

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has denied that a government squabble over rent certainty led to landlords hiking rates - despite a new report showing rents have risen at the fastest rate since the economic crash.

Mr Kelly blamed "complex issues" for the delay in the announcement of the housing package which was originally expected to be made on Budget Day, but wasn't finally agreed until last week. It restricts landlords to a single rent increase every two years.

The minister said that he could "absolutely not" have prevented rents going up by a nationwide average of 3.2pc between July and September.

Economists had warned that introducing a rent freeze would prompt landlords to pre-load rises ahead of the Government passing legislation.

The latest Daft.ie survey shows that those who rent a house are paying out €82 more per month than a year ago. Mr Kelly said that he had read the report but added that "there's huge evidence out there that these increases of 10pc or more were coming down stream".

"I have a huge amount of analysis that has come into my department that has shown that is going to happen. We predicted this was going to come true, that's the reason we took the measures that we did last week in order to give people better certainty in their tenancy, and to bring along supply measures," he said.

Reform

The Union of Students in Ireland said yesterday that the crisis could push students out of the rental sector and away from third-level institutions.

Kevin Donoghue, President of the USI, said: "While the two-year rent freeze reform from the Government will provide rent certainty for both tenants and landlords, this scheme could benefit students - because they will be less likely to move into a place and then be forced to move or fork out more rent. It is not as beneficial for students moving out of their family homes, as they will still be hit with increases."

Fianna Fail Spokesperson for the Environment, Barry Cowen, said the surge in rents is as a result of Mr Kelly's "botched handling of rent certainty".

"It is no coincidence that the largest rent increases in over 10 years were recorded when he was fumbling and fooling with rent controls," he said.

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