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Housing charity calls on election hopefuls to sign up to fair deal for renters

16 February 2016

-Introduction of new national strategy for private rented sector required urgently-

Threshold, the national housing charity, has called on all general election candidates to commit to developing and implementing a new strategy for the private rented sector which would deliver a fairer deal to renters.

Announcing Threshold’s pre-election call today (16.02.2016), Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold said: “With homelessness reaching unprecedented levels driven by high rents, and one in five families now living in private rented housing, we are asking all political parties and candidates to commit to a fair deal for tenants.

“Threshold has welcomed recent measures aimed at giving greater protection to tenants, including a two-year rent freeze, extensions to notice periods for increasing rents and terminating tenancies, and the introduction of a Deposit Protection Scheme under which deposits will be held by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). These measures will offer relief to hard-pressed tenants, but much more needs to be done.

“At the launch of Threshold’s annual report in December 2015, the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly committed that, if re-elected, a new government strategy for managing the private rented sector would be proposed. It is important that this commitment is fulfilled thoroughly by whatever Government is elected.

“We would urge all candidates to support the introduction of a comprehensive strategy to tackle issues such as longer-term rent certainty beyond the current temporary rent freeze, security of tenure, promoting the supply of affordable rented accommodation, improving the quality of rented housing, and dealing with the difficulties in the buy-to-let sector.”

Bob Jordan continued: “The private rented sector has more than doubled in size in recent years, with more Irish people renting today than at any time since the 1950s. We need a strategy that brings the sector into the 21st century.

“Families who rent their homes need a level of protection and stability that is severely lacking at the moment. Without longer-term rent certainty, tenants will still face a risk of homelessness due to unaffordable rent increases. Families who rely on state payments won’t be able pay for housing if they do not receive realistic levels of support under the rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment schemes. A change to the law is needed to protect tenants when receivers are appointed or lenders seek to repossess a mortgaged property that is rented.

“To provide families with more security in their homes, the current four-year tenancy model must be reviewed to ensure that indefinite tenancies become the norm. In order to achieve a stable and well-managed sector, a shift is needed away from the current over-reliance on amateur landlords with one or two properties, to a more balanced sector with professional, well-resourced landlords who are interested in long-term income returns.

“The next government must do everything in its power to prevent homelessness and we call on all those contesting in the forthcoming general election to sign up to a fair deal for renters by committing to protecting tenants and ensuring the needs of those in the private rented sector are met.”

For Threshold’s policy priorities for the general election click here.

 

Threshold wishes to acknowledge funding received from the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.