Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Private Rental Sector: Discussion

Photo of John CumminsJohn Cummins (Fine Gael)
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When answering the first round of questions, the witnesses stated that a rent freeze and restricting the sale would have a negative impact, with more landlords leaving the market, which obviously has a negative impact on the supply, which has a further negative impact on my constituents and their ability to get rental properties. I thank the witnesses for answering those questions frankly. My colleague sitting to my left, Deputy Ó Broin, had an article in the Business Post. Although he might like to think I was complimenting him on his impact on Government policy, I was actually stating that some utterances that he is making, even as a member of the Opposition, are having a negative impact on supply. I was contacted by an auctioneer in my county of Waterford. In fairness to Deputy Ó Broin, he has been saying this for quite some time. What he stated in the Business Poston 10 September was not new. While it is not new to me, the email from the auctioneer stated that since the news broke, two landlords have contacted the auctioneer with a view to selling all of their properties. The email states that one owns ten houses and the other owns 18 houses and that the client with 18 will likely retain four or five properties and sell the remainder, while the other client, with ten properties, will give notice to sell all of them. That is a flavour of what is happening in the rental market on foot of some people's utterances. When we talk about anything in the property sector, I always say that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The words that I and other people say here have an impact on what goes on outside the walls of Leinster House. That is why we need to be careful when we are considering policy interventions. We need to ensure that they are the correct interventions and that they will not have a perverse impact, which is the opposite to what we are trying to achieve.

That leads me on to the tax relief for retrofitting. While I agree that it sounds good in theory and it would be good to get more rental properties up to standard, we also have the resulting impact of that, which could involve more tenants losing tenancies.

This will happen because if a deep retrofit has to occur over a period of six or nine months, that will result in those tenants being out of their properties, with the negative impact that Threshold has identified. While I accept what our witnesses said earlier, we also have to weigh up the pros and cons.

The witnesses will accept that, in the context of market rents, the rent pressure zones were introduced in good faith in 2016. Dr. Byrne stated that it is too early to ascertain if they have been a success. Is that be a fair comment?