Dáil debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

 

12:00 pm

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)

Tá teaghlaigh i lár ghéarchéim costas maireachtála agus feictear seo go soiléir i gcuid mhór earnálacha. Feictear go hiontach soiléir é san earnáil chíosa. Chuir géarchéim tithíochta an Rialtais seo glúin amach as úinéireacht tithe. Tá an gnáthchíos anois ag €1,500 sa mhí. Tá daoine ag díol níos mó cíosa i mbliana ná mar a bhídís ag díol anuraidh agus tá tacaíocht de dhíth orthu. Tá Sinn Féin ag moladh chreidmheas cánach dóibh siúd atá ag díol cíosa a gcuirfeadh cíos míosa ar ais ina gcuid pócaí agus coisc ar arduithe cíosa.

The Tánaiste is well aware that we are in the middle of an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis and that every day we are seeing the costs of energy, fuel, childcare and housing go up. Workers and families across the State are struggling and all the while the Government continues to brush aside meaningful proposals that would make a major difference and put money back into people’s pockets.

Nowhere is the cost-of-living crisis more obvious than in the rental market. This is contributing to wider problems in the housing market. Young people cannot afford to save for a deposit, house prices are out of control and there is not enough social and affordable housing being built. An entire generation, because of the Government’s policies, is locked into an unaffordable rental market and locked out of ever being able to afford their own home. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of working people in their late 40s and 50s are living in the private rental sector. They are frightened that they have no way out of that rental market and face a future of pension poverty because of runaway rents. This housing failure is robbing our people of their hopes and dreams for the future.

I know the Tánaiste believes that landlords should be prioritised and their incomes are more important than renters being able to live a decent life. He said as much to the media in August. He said it would be a good idea to introduce a tax cut for landlords, despite the fact that there is little evidence to suggest that such measures will address the causes of the crisis. In fairness, however, he conceded that if he did so, he would do something for renters also. Renters are the people who need to be prioritised. Too often, we talk about rents in terms of percentage increases that we have seen year after year, but if we get down to the hard cash of it, the average new rent in this State is now just below €1,500 per month, with rents in Dublin now over €2,000. Because of runaway rents, new renters will a fork out €1,476 more this year to their landlord than they would have done last year. Renters need relief. As the Tánaiste will know, Sinn Féin has been calling on the Government year after year to provide support for renters. We have proposed for years a refundable tax credit that would put one month’s rent back into renters’ pockets, reducing their rental costs and lifting some of the burden from them. That would make a real difference to so many people. Of course, any support like this must make a difference to the renters who are hard pressed and must not be pocketed by landlords through further rent hikes. That is why this measure needs to be accompanied by a ban on rent increases.

Renters are being fleeced. Runaway rents need to stop. Renters can be supported and runaway rents can be tackled. However, it is the Government’s choice. The budget is just days away. I ask the Tánaiste, on behalf of renters right across the State who are feeling so much pressure and have seen their rents go up year after year without support or action from this Government, if the Government will now, belatedly at this final hour, adopt Sinn Féin’s plan to support renters by putting one’s month rent back into renters’ pockets and banning further rent increases - to reduce rents and to freeze them.

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