Every day radio shows and newspapers carry more evidence of our latest crisis. It’s plain to see; rent prices around the country are skyrocketing, accommodation standards are slipping and unfortunately for many, a total lack of housing is resulting in a homeless crisis the likes of which our councils have never experienced before.
Fianna Fáil have unveiled a policy which tackles the crisis in the rental market.
The Fianna Fáil plan focuses on three areas: Rights, Quality and Supply…
Securing better rights for both tenants and landlords would allow more security for both encouraging a more active rental market. Across the continent it is far more common for families to rent accommodation than it is here in Ireland. Using tax incentives to encourage long term leases would give security to families and encourage more supply from landlords.
By restoring Part V commitments to 20% (rate that was halved by Alan Kelly) further supply could be opened up in key areas. This would automatically increase supply to the social housing list without any cost to the exchequer. Fianna Fáil’s plan suggests that some of the additional housing could then be managed through voluntary housing associations and be allocated on a rental basis to limited income workers in key sectors such as nurses, gardaí and construction workers.
An increase in the rental supplement is proposed where demand has driven prices beyond reach for many. A vital proposal is the introduction of legislation which would make it illegal not to offer a house to rent because an individual is in receipt of rent supplement.
In rare cases, landlords experience extreme difficulty with tenants who damage property and engage in antisocial behaviour. This is a source of financial and mental stress for landlords. Fianna Fáil are proposing a fast tracked “Rouge Tenants” section in the PRTB to handle such cases.
Fianna Fáil are proposing a national inspections regime to be established by the Department of Environment and Local Government. This will allow potential renters to see a government accredited standard of quality before signing a contract – similar to the BER system.
“At the heart of many of the problems in the housing sector today is a lack of supply”
Fianna Fáil proposes a serious of measures to encourage growth of housing supply:
Reduce Commercial rates on residential units above commercial premises. Not only will this offer additional supply but it has to potential to bring life back to our town centres, giving positive knock-on effects to local businesses.
Allowing Local Property Tax as an Expense against taxable rental income
Targeted loans from Strategic Investment Fund to promote rental specific accommodation in Dublin and other cities
Tax changes to help negative equity, involuntary landlords (i.e. allowing people who bought from 2000 – 2009 to offset rental income against their tax liability). This would be a major positive step for individuals in negative equity who need to move homes.
Several of these measures can be self-financing (e.g. PRTB costs), some require legislation alone to be implemented. For some there is a cost implication, which Fianna Fáil expects the total to be €108m in a full year.