Galway West Social Democrats have called on the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to include the Galway rental sector in his plans for rental reform.
Following reports of the Government’s new rental strategy by Minister Coveney, Galway West Social Democrats pointed out that the proposed measures which allow for a four per cent per annum increase in so-called rent ‘pressure zones’ equates to approximately 40 times the current Consumer Price Index.
The party has long called for a linking of rents to the CPI; this measure falls far short of the mark. But the Social Democrats have repeatedly said that current rent levels are already out of control and Government must look at measures which will reduce rather than maintain current levels.
The party is also concerned about the exclusion of new rental properties from any form of rent limits, effectively giving landlords free reign to charge whatever they like.
"It is also extremely worrying that there will be no rent increase limits whatsoever for areas not included in the ‘pressure zones.’
Niall Ó Tuathail, of Galway West Social Democrats said that the only long-term solution for the housing crisis is for government to pick up the shovel and start a major building programme that would reduce the cost of new builds and actually generates cash for the taxpayer.
"It's the right thing to do socially and economically. In the short-term we need to have effective rent measures to protect renters from massive rent increases. Galway renters are suffering just as much as those in Dublin and Cork and we should be brought under this measure," he said.
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said that she is concerned that only two areas — Dublin and Cork— will be categorised as so-called 'pressure zones'.
"People in commuter belt counties are paying comparable rents to city prices and the Minister must take this into account. In the past I have raised similar concerns with the former Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton regarding rent supplement limits and indeed she conceded that some commuter areas required comparable levels of rent supplement support due to rental prices," added del Murphy.
"I would hope that Minister Coveney has taken a thorough review of the rental markets across the country and will therefore recognise the need to implement more nuanced measures than simply targeting two big cities. Those measures must tackle the problem of exorbitant rental prices in the areas which are most affected," she concluded.