Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2024: Second Stage


7:05 pm

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I am glad to get the opportunity to talk about the very important matter of accommodation for college students. Kerry students have a serious difficulties at different times in getting accommodation in places like Limerick and Cork. The Minister of State will appreciate that Limerick is a savage distance from some parts of Kerry. It takes two hours to get from Killarney to Limerick, but there are places farther west such as Lauragh, which is another hour's drive, Cahirsiveen, Valentia Island, Ballinskelligs or Portmagee. Those places are very far away. If you cannot get accommodation, it is a serious problem for a student. Many parents and students find themselves distraught trying to find accommodation. The real pressure starts when the second round of college places are announced. All the student accommodation that was available is gone by then. Students then must travel from Killarney up to Limerick on a bus and then back down again. One can imagine that kind of pressure that puts on students who are trying to do lectures, taking everything in, and then being tired and having to be out again at 6 a.m. the following morning. This is a serious difficulty. I appreciate what the Government is doing with the 41 weeks, but what will happen for the other ten weeks to the landlords who own the houses? If they have mortgages, how will they continue to pay them. Will this mean that landlords will opt out of supplying accommodation for students? This measure could have an adverse effect. I am very concerned at the idea of giving more power and authority to the RTB.

There is a bigger question about all accommodation. I have asked the Tánaiste and I have asked other Ministers too about this. There is a system whereby landlords get €800 tax free to rent houses out to Ukrainians while there are houses all over the place not being rented out. They are everywhere and all over Kerry. We must give some incentive to landlords to rent them out because currently there are two problems: if they are rented out, the RTB makes it very difficult for them and if the landlords need their houses back they cannot get them back. It is, however, different if the landlords rent to Ukrainians because then they could get a house back after one week if they really wanted it. That system should also apply here; perhaps not a week, but within a reasonable amount of time. Landlords have to wait 12 months or two to three years to get their houses back. People are not interested in doing that. On top of that, if they get €700 or €800 for the house per month, they have to pay 52% tax. It is not worthwhile, and that is why the houses are vacant and empty all around Kerry, Cork and other places. If the Government really wanted do something and sort out the accommodation, it could do it overnight by extending this tax exemption to landlords who rent to local Irish people. Goddamn it, they are our own people and it would make a big difference.

What will happen the student accommodation for the other 11 weeks? I can see a problem there. If people are paying mortgages on those properties, how will they survive if this is not addressed? It is only window-dressing. While the intention might be good, the Government must do more and should answer more questions.


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