Cork TD: Lifting rent protections would 'throw renters under the bus'

Cork TD: Lifting rent protections would 'throw renters under the bus'
Donnchadh O'Laoghaire. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that it is absolutely essential that the government extends the ban on evictions, notices to quit and rent increases until at least the end of 2020.

Deputy O’Laoghaire said that renters in Cork have been “badly hit” by the economic impact of Covid-19.

“We see young renters disproportionately affected by layoffs in sectors of the economy that will not recover in 2020 due to Covid 19 restrictions.

"Renters were already struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. It would be very unfair to heap more stress upon them by ending these protections during this time of great economic turbulence,” he said.

It comes following the publication of the Residential Tenancies Board’s (RTB) Rent Index Report for Q1 2020 which was published today.

Produced in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute, the analysis shows that the annual growth rate of rent amounts declined significantly compared to the period prior to the lockdown.

While the annual growth rate in March was over 3%, by April this had fallen to 0.4%, and it declined again in May to 0.1%.

By June, the annual growth rate had turned negative with prices falling by 3.3% compared to the same month the previous year.

There was a significant decline in the number of tenancies registered with the RTB between March and April.

While in March there were over 7,000 registrations, in April this had fallen to less than 4,000. The number also remained subdued in May.

Deputy O'Laoghaire said that SinnFéin has long argued for “real action on the rent crisis”.

“In government, we would ban rent increases for three years. In the here and now, we are calling on Minister O'Brien to extend the ban until at least the end of 2020.

"Lifting these protections would be to throw renters under the bus and it would send a clear message from Micheál Martin's government that it is not serious about tackling crisis rents,” he said.

Kinsale Harbour, Cork City. Stock image.
Kinsale Harbour, Cork City. Stock image.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has designated the Bandon – Kinsale Local Electoral Area as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ).

Minister O’Brien said: “In line with the rent zone report received from the RTB, which indicates that the LEA of Bandon – Kinsale meets the criteria, I have signed a Ministerial Order designating it as an RPZ.” Interim Director of the RTB, Pádraig McGoldrick, said that it was clear from the analysis that the rental market has been “immediately impacted by lockdown” since the onset of the pandemic.

“We understand that the Covid-19 crisis presents new challenges for both landlords and tenants across the country.

“We are continuing to encourage those who are experiencing issues in their tenancies during this time to visit our website for information on how to resolve issues and, if necessary, use the RTB’s telephone mediation service, which is a free service to help landlords and tenants resolve a dispute in a mutually beneficial manner, and does not require people to leave their home,” he said.

Senior Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Conor O’Toole, said that the spread of Covid-19 resulting in lockdown is “likely to impact all facets of the Irish economy” including prices in the rental market and that is is “difficult to asses the trajectory of prices in the short to medium term” with the economic situation relating to the pandemic “rapidly evolving”.

A more detailed granular assessment of trends in pricing will be presented in the upcoming Q2 Rent Index which will be published later in the year.

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