Threshold welcomes housing policy changes
19 September 2017
The national housing charity, Threshold has welcomed a number of policy changes announced by Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD to tackle the housing crisis. Speaking today (19.09.17) at the launch of the Residential Tenancies Board’s Rent Index for the Second Quarter of 2017, Minister Murphy pledged:
- The extension of Rent Pressure Zone areas to include Drogheda in Co Louth and Greystones in Co Wicklow.
- The strengthening of the RTB’s regulatory powers.
- The development of a definition of what constitutes ‘substantial refurbishment’ of a dwelling.
- The establishment of a Deposit Protection Scheme and the definition of a deposit as one month’s rent.
- Action on the protection of tenants’ rights during receivership.
Commenting, chief executive of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty said: “We welcome today’s announcement by the Minister as a step in the right direction in addressing the housing crisis and we will closely study the initiatives. The private rented sector is the third pillar of a functioning housing market and it is essential that it operates correctly if any progress is to be made on this issue.
“We welcome the designation of Drogheda and Greystones as RPZs and that this status takes effect from midnight tonight. However, these designations are evidence that increased rents and affordability are not just a Dublin phenomenon, but an increasing issue for the commuter counties.”
He added: “Concerns over what constitutes ‘substantial refurbishment’ and their connection with tenancy terminations and substantial rent increases is a constant issue being brought to Threshold’s attention. Therefore, we are delighted that there will soon be a definition of ‘substantial refurbishment’, which will benefit both tenants and landlords. We also call on the Minister to introduce immediately the Deposit Protection Scheme – this is already provided for in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 and simply needs the Minister to trigger the related provisions in the Act.”
The figures released by the RTB today show that average national monthly rents now exceed €1,000, as demand continues to outstrip supply.
Threshold chair, Dr Aideen Hayden said: “Demand for rented accommodation in Dublin continues to be extremely high, with rents now 10.8 per cent above their previous peak in Q4, 2007. The increase in the Dublin market was mainly driven by an acceleration in rents for apartments, where Dublin apartment rents are now 14.7 per cent above the previous peak of Q4, 2007.
“We support the RTB’s call to both new and existing tenants faced with rent increases in excess of the 4 per cent RPZ cap to refer a dispute to it. However, we reiterate our call for a mandatory rent register, which would go some way to creating a more transparent system for renters. We call on the Government to ask the Attorney General to examine the possibility of such a rent register - there is a register of property prices so why not one displaying rental values without disclosing the names of landlords or tenants? If we are to stop evasion there needs to be a real way of enforcing the legislation.”