Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 introduced a targeted rent increase restriction of 4% per annum. The Deputy will recall that we brought forward some of the subsequent changes in legislation more quickly than we would have liked in order to deal with the roll-over of outstanding increases into an 8% rise. The Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Act 2021 introduced measures in July 2021 to better protect tenants with affordability challenges by extending the operation of RPZs until the end of 2024 and prohibiting any necessary rent increase in an RPZ from exceeding general inflation, as recorded by the harmonised index of consumer prices. This was a measure all parties supported, including the Deputy's party. It significantly reduced the level of permissible rent increases for approximately 74% of all tenancies within the RPZs. The legislation also made a number of changes to tenancies outside the RPZs.
When introducing those measures, I was very clear on the need to monitor inflation carefully. I said in the debate that I was aware inflation was rising. At the time, the HICP averaged some 0.73% per annum over the previous three years, but had risen to 1.6% per annum in the year ending June 2021. I needed to revise the RPZ rent control relatively quickly in July, which was accepted by the House, on a basis that could be independently verified. The 2021 Act provides that an index other than the HICP may be prescribed for the purposes of restricting rent increases in RPZs. Given the continuing rise in HICP inflation, up to 3% per annum in August, I am considering all legal options available to me to ensure effective rent controls are legally in force in RPZs to cap the rate of any rent increase where the general inflation rate is too high. I intend to bring this change forward by way of the housing and residential tenancies Bill 2021 before the end of this Dáil term. I will give further details presently.