A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD: ACTION NEEDED NOW

30 November 2016

Speech by Labour Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan, on the Secure Rents and Tenancies Bill.

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

“This Bill represents solidarity across left-wing political parties and groups in the Dáil as well as six trade unions and two Civil Society organisations. 

It has been introduced by Deputy Eoin O’Broin and focuses specifically on the three elements of the campaign initiated by SIPTU, CWU, IMPACT, Mandate, UNITE and Uplift to protect tenants from spiralling rents, from short-term leases and from summary eviction if their home is being sold. I was happy to sign the Bill on behalf of my colleagues in the Labour Party.

This is a focused campaign and a focused Bill and is most urgently needed. The latest Dublin rough sleeper count published today showing that 142 people were sleeping out in the cold on 22nd November, represents the reality of those whose plight is most extreme; there are hundreds more individuals and families who are in emergency accommodation and thousands more who have a real fear that they will lose their home through exorbitant rent increases or eviction because the property is being sold or the lease is running out.

These people cannot wait until more homes are built. They need security now.

The most recent report by Daft.ie shows that the annual rate of rental inflation nation-wide is 11.7%.  People with expertise in Housing have predicted impending increases of 25%.  While we all welcome measures to increase supply, they will not deliver quickly, not nearly as quickly as rents will increase as demand exceeds supply in the meantime.

Stuck in the middle of this are real people, real families. Their incomes are limited and that most basic of needs, a roof over your head, is more than they can afford.

The measures in this Bill can subvert this and stop the spiral.

Linking rent to the cost of living means that increases have to be modest. If left to the market, the shortage of supply in our cities will allow landlords to charge the highest rent they can get and those who have no choice but to rent will be in competition with each other with those on the lowest incomes inevitably losing out and forced into, at worst, homelessness, at best, accommodation that does not meet their needs.

Providing for longer Part four tenancies and prohibiting the termination of a tenancy because the property is being sold will give security to tenants.  Essentially, the three measures alter the balance of power between the landlord and the tenant, putting cards in the tenants hand that are common in other countries where long-term renting is a viable choice.

The Government amendment declines to accept the Bill and gives as the main reason that it pre-empts the commitment to publish a Strategy for the Rental sector by the end of 2016.  If I thought that strategy would contain the three measures in this Bill, I mightn’t be too concerned.

I don’t.

All the signals are that Pillar 4 of Rebuilding Ireland will not link rent increases to cost of living rises or provide the kind of security tenants need. I hope I am wrong.  I hope that voices representing tenants will be heard above the poor-mouth pleas of developers who are already showing evidence that they are hoarding land until the price is right and the profit is large enough..they cannot be allowed to lead us into another boom and bust cycle.”

ENDS

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