Labour Bill aims to tackle the rent crisis

21 September 2021

In advance of tomorrow’s Dáil debate on the Labour Renters’ Rights Bill, Labour TD for Dublin Bay South Ivana Bacik has said that it is time for the government to address the power imbalance in the rental market. Highlighting the testimonies of constituents, Deputy Bacik has said that the government needs to address the bleak situation for many renters.

Deputy Bacik said:

“During the Dublin Bay South bye-election, we heard from many people about the difficulties they were experiencing in rented accommodation – really serious problems with security of tenure, with rent hikes and with poor quality of life. With rents doubling in the last decade, almost 40pc above pre-crisis levels in Dublin and 20pc up across the rest of the country, renting is not seen as a long-term option for many people. We need to change this. We’ve had five wasted years of government by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil when it comes to housing in this country. Nowhere is this lack of aspiration more visible than in the approach to renters. The Residential Tenancies (Tenants’ Rights) Bill 2021 seeks to address the power imbalance between landlord and tenant, by providing greater protections for renters.

“Many constituents have told me about their bad experiences renting accommodation in Dublin. Words like ‘demoralising’ and ‘soul destroying’ come up frequently. Single people in particular feel trapped in the rental market, barely able to make ends meet, never mind save for a deposit. Rogue landlords won’t fix essential items like fridges or radiators. One constituent told me about leases containing a condition that tenants must have the rental property professionally cleaned at the end of their tenancy before they can get their deposit back.

“Many renters live in fear of so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions, a practice that needs to end now by restricting the grounds for evictions as this Bill seeks to do. Through providing more detailed information on the Private Residential Tenancies Register – including the number and duration of previous tenancies, and any refurbishment works which may have been undertaken – we can end the practice of landlords charging what they want with very little transparency.

“We know that unaffordable rents are crippling renters. There are structural things that need to be dealt with to make renting more affordable for all people – single people, married people, young workers, retired people. This bill would link annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index after a 3-year rent freeze, and would declare the entire State a rent pressure zone.

“In Ireland, and particularly in Dublin, many renters are faced with very poor quality housing and a host of unfair restrictions that in many cases prevent most renters from seeing their rented home as a permanent one. This is contributing to the enormous demand for buying houses and apartments. In other European countries, it is common for renters to be able to keep pets and to request an unfurnished property, so that renting is seen as a more reliable long-term option for families and for individuals.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been on the side of landlords for too long. They’re happy to leave renters at risk of being exploited by landlords with unaffordable rents and little to no security of tenure. We lag behind other countries on renters’ rights. I have called on all TDs to support this important Bill, which would make the rental market fairer for people and represent a positive step towards tackling the housing crisis.”

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