Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I acknowledge that rents relative to incomes are high, which is a real problem. They have become unaffordable for many, particularly those living in cities. In the Government’s view, the solution is twofold, namely, rent controls and an increase in housing supply. Rent controls which are in place mean that for an existing tenancy, the rent cannot be increased in any given year by more than 4%. As the Deputy knows, the statistics produced today by daft.iedo not capture this but only new tenancies. Rent controls, with a maximum rent increase of 4% a year, are working for hundreds of thousands of people who are staying in the same place they have been renting in the medium to long term. If it had not been for these rent controls, these hundreds of thousands of people would have faced high rent increases by now. That is not captured in the statistics, as Assistant Professor Lyons said, because these are new tenancies and the statistics do not apply to existing tenancies.
The second aspect of the solution has to be more supply. If there was more supply of social housing, it would ensure people could move out of private rented accommodation, the housing assistance payment and rent supplement into social housing. We will provide an extra 10,000 social houses this year, more than in any other year this century. We will ramp up that figure to 11,000 units the following year and 12,000 the year after that. It is the biggest social housing programme in many decades.
There will also be an increase in the supply of private housing, with more places for people to buy to ensure they will not have to rent anymore. This will free up properties for others to rent and ensure more places to rent.
I am pleased that another set of statistics was out yesterday which showed a significant increase in the supply of housing. In the year to September, there was a 28% increase in the number of commencement notices. There had been concerns that the number was slowing down. We know from the numbers that were out yesterday that that is not the case. There has been a 28% increase year on year in the number of commencement notices.