Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Teaghaise) 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha] - Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to a Home) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

 

9:30 pm

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)

-----once eligible for it on income grounds and subject to some restrictions regarding the suitability of accommodation, or otherwise be placed on a waiting list for social housing; and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community. It includes the right to purchase a local authority house, subject to certain conditions, and the duty of the local authority to make an assessment of housing need, to make an allocation scheme and operate according to it and to have regard to the needs the scheme is supposed to meet.

It also includes rights in regard to the procedure for tenancy, warning and eviction. The Housing Act 1988 places particular responsibility on local authorities to provide for the accommodation needs of people who are homeless. There are also many legislative protections in place in regard to private housing and rented accommodation, including protections for the family home, which again is very often dishonestly discussed in this House. It includes the right to a four-year tenancy, or a six-year tenancy for those tenancies commencing after 24 December 2016, with limited grounds for termination in private rented accommodation if a tenant has been in occupation for six months continuously and no notice to quit has been served; the right to graduated notice periods that must be given to tenants on the termination of a tenancy, reflective of the length of time spent in the tenancy; the right to a rent that is no greater than the current market rent; and for tenancies in a rent pressure zone, the right to a rent increase that is no greater than 4% annually for three years. We all agree that rents are too high. Nobody is disputing that. We accept that, but we disagree on how to address it. Sinn Féin does not believe that supply bears any reference in that regard, but it does. Four years ago, a house an hour's drive from here could be rented for half the price it costs today. Supply is relevant. The warped view that supply is not relevant is wrong. Of course supply is relevant. In 2011, we had 3,000 ghost estates and thousands of empty houses. Rent was much cheaper then because there was available stock. Ten years later, owing to a lack of building for seven or eight years, there are fewer properties available to rent and so rents are higher. The issues are linked. They are not the sole reason for the problem but they are linked. There is no point in the Deputies opposite continually saying they are not linked, because they are.

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