Cork County Council is to write to the Minister for Housing asking for an ‘immediate rent freeze on all areas within the County boundary currently not under the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs)'.
Working families in Cork who earn too much to qualify for housing support but not enough to get a mortgage are under severe financial pressure as a result of rising rents. That is the view of Sinn Féin councillor Danielle Twomey and the reason she put forward the motion about a potential rent freeze.
"There is a huge issue with rising rents and people are struggling," Ms Twomey said. “Not only is it a burden on the public purse, due to HAP and rent allowance increase, it is also placing a heavy burden on working families, who rely on rental properties.
"I do a lot of volunteer work in east Cork, and I have seen that when the weekly rent is due, there are a lot of families who cannot afford to pay the rent and the food bill at the same time.”
She and fellow councillors have made multiple requests for east Cork to be included in the RPZs, without success. Ms Twomey believes the RPZs have failed to control increases, which is why she is looking for a complete freeze.
“The average rent of a three-bed house in Midleton is €1300 €1400, that is double some people’s mortgage,” she said. "The RPZs are clearly not working, they have failed to cap the rents, which are continuing to rise nationally.
“Families are struggling and still no real, aggressive measures have been taken to tackle this crisis.” She received broad support for her motion at Monday's County Council meeting, where many councillors, including County mayor Christopher O'Sullivan, spoke of difficulties in their own areas.
“Coming from Clonakilty, which is not covered by an RPZ, there is severe pressure on young families, young couples, single people - everyone is struggling to cope with the massive rent demand and increases that are getting out of control,” he said.
“The housing crisis is a deepening wound on Irish society, especially given our booming economy,” Green Party Councillor Liam Quaide said. “We need to put limits on a market that has gone out of control and is doing such damage to people’s lives.
“We need major state investment in social and affordable housing, as well as measures like this one.”