Thursday 14 December 2017

Labour Party reacts furiously after failing to secure agreement for tackling spiralling rent bills

Minister Alan Kelly
Minister Alan Kelly

Talks between Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan over so-called 'rent certainty' proposals broke down just hours before Budget 2016 was unveiled, the Herald has learned.

Mr Kelly has devised a suite of proposals aimed at keeping rent prices in Dublin and other urban areas at an affordable rate.

Central to the package is the linking of rent to inflation until 2019. Such a move would legally prevent landlords from consistently hiking the rent charged to tenants. However, high-level negotiations over Mr Kelly's plan have stalled following opposition from Mr Noonan's officials.

Labour sources have accused the Department of Finance of showing disregard for the needs of tenants. But Finance sources say it would be wrong to introduce any measures that could stifle investment and cause landlords to exit the rental market. The major disagreement between Mr Kelly, Mr Noonan and their sets of officials is overshadowing Budget 2016.

Labour ministers are "deeply unhappy" that the plan has effectively been vetoed. Talks are due to resume next week.

But the news of the Coalition row has thrown the plan into serious doubt.

Asked about the discussions around the housing plan, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "The minister for housing and environment are obviously looking at a package of measures on the supply side which is the real problem here."

He said that discussions were ongoing with Finance Minister Michael Noonan to ensure that any measures would be introduced "without interfering with the market to its disadvantage", the Taoiseach added.

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