Time to give Renters a break

22 January 2020

Freeze and cap rents – introduce a rent to buy scheme

The Labour Party has published our plans to give renters a break and is proposing to re-introduce a rent-to-buy scheme for those seeking to get on the property ladder instead of going back to the disastrous SSIA type scheme proposed by Fianna Fáil.

Since February 2016 rents have risen by 25%. The average rent hit record highs before Christmas, with those in Dublin reaching nearly €2,300. According to the last census nearly 30% of all households in Ireland are renters, while home ownership is at the lowest level since 1971.

Jan O’Sullivan said:

“Renters account for a significant proportion of households in Ireland now, and yet are among the most vulnerable. Average rents are now at all time high and people have very little security in their rental properties.

“Renters already struggling with the high cost of living and can often barely afford to make ends meet, yet alone save for a deposit to buy their own home. We also know that more people are becoming homeless from the private rental sector.

“The last Government has failed to get a handle on this crisis and the Rent Pressure Zones have not capped rising rents, instead permitting annual increases of 4%. The incredible u-turn by Fianna Fáil on a rent freeze shows that the main parties are not prepared to help those most in need.

“That is why we saying enough is enough, and that renters need a break. The Labour Party will immediately freeze and cap rents until enough homes have been built.

“We will bring in stronger rent controls and long-term leases for renters, and we’ll stop unfair evictions, while setting up an NCT-style inspection for rental properties to ensure that rogue landlords aren’t going unchecked.

“We’ll bring in a deposit protection scheme and create a rent register so tenants can see what the pervious tenant was charged.

“We also want to make renting count, and reform the existing credit rating model to ensure that rental payments- as well as saving deposit accounts- are counted as part of an individual or couple’s credit rating.

“Labour believes that the State must take the lead on this and pick up the pieces from where the private sector has failed. That is why a central offering of our new plan is a Rent to Buy scheme through our affordable housing plan where a person with a tenancy for three years that successfully pays all their rent would see it turned into a deposit for the property that they will then go on to own.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: please see below Labour policy proposals for renters,

RENTERS NEED A BREAK

Ireland had the highest rent increases in the EU since 2015 and since February 2016 rents have risen by 25% under the Fine Gael government kept in power by Fianna Fáil. The average nationwide rent was over €1,400 at the end of 2019, an all-time high. This was up to €2,224 in parts of Dublin. Many people can’t afford to rent at all close to where they work, and end up commuting long distances. This is unsustainable and is destroying quality of life. Reliance on the private housing market has failed. Rents are unaffordable and homelessness is at record highs, including nearly 4,000 children. Many adult children are living with their parents due to the impossibility of meeting the cost of rent.

  • We will Freeze Rent Increases

Labour’s will freeze rents until enough homes are built, to immediately alleviate the housing crisis. Labour froze rents in 2015 for two years, and it can be done again to give people certainty and to allow time for more homes to be built.

  • We will Cap Rents

As well as freezing rents, Labour will introduce a system of rent caps. Fine Gael permits rents to go up 4% every year, but wages are not increasing at anything like that rate. We will also more strongly regulate short-term letting and enforce the law to free up homes that should not be used as hotels.

  • We want Secure Long-Term Tenancies

Labour believes that secure, long-term renting should be a viable option so that people have security and can make a place into their long-term home. Labour will bring in long-term leases for renters, with rent certainty, and we’ll stop unfair evictions. To achieve this, we will strengthen the powers of the Rental Tenancies Board and increase its staff so that it has the capacity to fulfil its mandate.

  • We want a Deposit Protection Scheme

Labour will ban the practice of landlords asking for more than one month’s rent as a deposit and implement a deposit protection scheme.

  • We want an NCT for Rental Properties

Labour will introduce an NCT-style inspection of rental premises that issues Minimum Standards Certificates system so tenants know the places they’re viewing meet standards on fire safety, and oblige local authorities to publish annual statistics into inspections of private rental accommodation to ensure regulations are correctly and effectively enforced.

  • We will make Rent Count

Some renters are paying up to €500 more than they would for a mortgage. Labour will ensure that rental payments and deposit savings are counted as part of credit ratings, to help first-time buyers.

  • We will help Renters who want to Buy

Labour will also re-introduce a Rent to Buy scheme through our affordable housing plan where a person with a tenancy for three years that successfully pays all their rent would see it turned into a deposit for the property that they will then go on to own.

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