08 December 2016

Remarks by Joan Burton TD on Labour’s Social & Affordable Housing Bill

“Housing is urgently needed in the Dublin area, as well as in other parts of the country. More houses need to be built for young people to buy, and as social housing, for renting and specific groups such as older people.

“There is a strategic development zone in Dublin West, Hansfield, for which there has been full planning permission for ten years to build an additional 3,000 houses on a very nice site which is very attractive and which will be well supported by purchasers and renters.

“It will not be possible, however, to develop the site unless Fingal County Council can access funding to develop roads into it. More than 12,000 houses have been built in the past 12 to 15 years in Hansfield, Littlepace and Onger and an additional 3,000 houses could be built, but the necessary funding is lacking. There was planning permission for the entire period of recession, but it will not be possible for the council to get private builders on site unless roads are built.

“We heard of reports this week that the Government’s Infrastructure Fund is oversubscribed. The Government should ensure additional loans will be taken out with the European Investment Bank, for example, or that other sources of funding will be made available.

“Unless many more houses are built than the current targets allow for, we will face meltdown.

“In the same area of Dublin West, many people face rent increases of up to 40% once the two-year moratorium on rent increases comes to an end.

“The Government is drifting towards a point where this will cause enormous difficulties.

“There is a serious crisis building in the rental sector

“Notwithstanding the Government broadly following the strategy laid out by Labour, the new government is failing in its duty to cap rents.

“If there is not an extension to the rent certainty measures brought in by Alan Kelly in the last government many families are facing sudden rent hikes of between 50 and 100%.

“This week I was approached by somebody who rents a one-and-a-half bed apartment in Clonee in Meath for about €860 a month.

“The person has been advised by the landlord that when the two-year moratorium on rent increases finishes in March, the rent will go up to €1,200.

“In Dublin 7, in the Manor Street area, two-beds are renting at the moment for €1,800.

“Agents acting for landlords are exploiting vulnerable people in this situation.

“Their behaviour is not defensible – the rent increases are a multiple of what they would be in any fair regulated sector.

“I raised a Topical Issue Matter with the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government three weeks ago. All his recent statements indicate that, notwithstanding the extraordinary additional jump that has taken place in the last couple of months; he is setting his face against any kind of rent control.

“For the sake of people at work who are paying their rent out of their income, it is time to give consideration to rent certainty measures as Labour has outlined in our Bill.”

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