Kelly says housing is 'biggest issue' as rent row goes on
EMBATTLED Environment Minister Alan Kelly has said he takes no issue "more seriously" than the housing crisis.
He was speaking in the Dail as the Coalition row over his efforts to introduce rent certainty measures continued.
His remarks came as it emerged that almost 6,000 complaints have been made to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) by landlords and tenants over the last 10 months.
"There is no issue I spend more time on," Mr Kelly said.
"The biggest issue we have is a growing economy which has created this pressure. We also have a problem in relation to the private rental sector because there is a small percentage of unscrupulous landlords.
"We do need to ensure that tenants are protected."
Mr Kelly said that the issue of rapidly rising rents needed a whole-of-Government approach but he expected an outcome from discussions shortly.
"We have been caught in the perfect storm of the property crash. We have a dysfunctional sector."
Figures obtained by the Herald show that the PRTB has had to become involved in a flood of disputes since the start of the year.
One in three of the cases takes between three and four months before a resolution is found, while the worst rows have taken more than seven months to process.
Tanaiste Joan Burton has proposed beefing up the powers of the PRTB to play a more significant role in setting rents as part of a plan to settle the row between Mr Kelly and the Department of Finance over the introduction of rent certainty.
A Labour spokesperson last night confirmed that plans to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index are "unlikely to materialise".
In the Dail yesterday, Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin described the ongoing talks as "chaotic".
He likened Mr Kelly to the struggling Chelsea soccer boss. "In response - the Jose Mourinho-type response - he (Kelly) goes into the third person and he attacks the 'cowards', the 'anonymous cowards', that are leaking against him. He talks about his colleagues, Fine Gael senior ministers he is talking about," Mr Martin said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny responded to Mr Martin saying he hopes an agreement between Mr Kelly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan will be reached in the coming week.
He said the "real problem" is lack of supply.