Wednesday, 18 April 2018
In what is a pretty well worn pattern, we had yet another announcement, which was the umpteenth announcement, yesterday by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government that purportedly will help to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis and, in particular, the issue of private rented accommodation. Twice yesterday during Taoiseach's Questions, I asked questions in an attempt to interrogate these proposals because they are nothing more than another half-baked, futile exercise in closing the door after the horse has bolted. They are pure tokenism, which will do nothing to address a housing and homelessness emergency that is spiralling out of control. I hope I might get the answers today from the Taoiseach that I did not yesterday.
What is the point of bringing in legislation, even with criminal sanctions about which I am happy, which will limit rent increases to 4% annually when rents are unaffordable anyway and the level of rent is such that nobody on a low income or dependent on housing assistance payment, HAP, or even those on a reasonable income such as teachers, nurses and so on can afford them? Average rents in parts of Dublin are €1,800 per month. In south Dublin, average rent is almost €2,000 per month, which means someone needs €24,000 a year to secure an average rental property. That is impossible. What will the Taoiseach do about that? This is only if someone can secure accommodation at those rents given landlords will not even look at those on HAP. I am dealing with constituents who have come to my office with lists of between 80 and 100 properties that they have viewed trying to find accommodation that they can afford but it is impossible. All this leads directly to homelessness. None of the loopholes relating to substantial refurbishment and moving relatives in for the sale of properties, which are being exploited by vulture funds and landlords, is being addressed. Landlords are using them to evict people. Nothing has been done about affordability. Emergency legislation is needed. Earlier this week, a scandal was revealed yet again. The Sunday Independentrevealed that Christian Carter who had previously been caught with 70 people in a five-bedroom house in Cabinteely had seven other properties with up to 30 people living in some of them following an investigation by the newspaper.