Seanad debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Rebecca MoynihanRebecca Moynihan (Labour)

I second the proposed amendment to the Order of Business.

I wish to raise the issue of the latest Daft report. It comes on the back of a number of reports from both Daft and the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, which show that rents in the country are rising exponentially. They are a huge contributor to the cost-of-living crisis. They are up 11% nationwide. In particular, there is a real worry in the north west, where the rent on a lot of homes that are not in rent pressure zones has gone up by nearly 20%. The issue is very concentrated there. The Daft report highlights in particular the lack of rental properties that are available and coming onto the market for people to move into. That indicates a big problem with supply. To my mind, the way to address this supply crisis is to invest in cost-rental housing, which we know is more linked to affordability than other forms of housing. Instead the Government launched yesterday the Croí Cónaithe fund, which essentially gives a no-questions-asked subsidy to developers in order to complete apartment buildings in towns and cities. The subsidy, potentially, can be €120,000 per apartment. Only €5 million will be allocated to the fund this year, but the amount involved will eventually rise to €500 million. That money would be much better invested in and spent on better the development of cost-rental housing.We need to look at this as a longer-term project. Countries such as Germany or Austria have done so, where they reinvest the money from rents in providing cost-rental housing and build other housing. It is not the answer to give developers subsidies in order to build housing. While we have a supply crisis, the way to address that is through State and Government intervention, not through incentivising developers. We know what happened when that last happened.

I want to raise the issue of build-to-rent standards. We have supply coming on. For example, there has been a supply of approximately four years within Dublin that has not yet commenced. While I am not against build-to-rent, because I do not see anything wrong with the tenure of people renting, I do have a problem with the affordability. We also need to be building stock that will last into the future. This is because it requires an awful lot of carbon to build that stock.

I live in a very small house of 40 sq m. One of the things we need in our very small house is storage, because we are planning on living there for a long time. Unfortunately, in build-to-rent apartments there is not adequate storage, there are not adequate balconies and they are not buildings that we could see in 50 years being developed into housing that is still there and operational. They are just boxes. I understand that the Government needs and wants to bring supply. This is welcome, but we need to make sure that such housing can last into the future and for hundreds of years.


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