Fianna Fáil has today launched a comprehensive policy document aimed at tackling the growing national rent crisis.

The document, entitled ‘Generation Rent – A new deal for Renters and Landlords’, outlines a clear 3 step strategy to address the rent crisis. The strategy consists of strengthening tenants’ rights and rent affordability, improving the quality of accommodation and encouraging greater investment to boost supply.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD launched the document today alongside Dublin City Councillors Paul McAuliffe and Deirdre Heney.

The policy document builds on proposals unveiled last April by Fianna Fáil through its “Supporting Home Ownership – A National Housing Roadmap” strategy. This strategy envisages a €4.5bn social housing direct build program.

Speaking following the launch Deputy Cowen commented, “The rent crisis is growing in Dublin and right across the country. We can see the crisis at its worst with the soaring level of homelessness, but also in the student accommodation problems experienced by countless young people.

“Rent is becoming completely unaffordable for many and the quality of accommodation is far below standard. As it stands there are no incentives for landlords to stay in the system.

“The self styled Action Man Minister Alan Kelly has talked about a ‘perfect storm’ but he has stood by while the storm has developed, ignoring the warnings and attacking those who tried to point out it was coming.  The time for action is now long overdue.

“The plan unveiled by Fianna Fáil today outlines 3 steps to address the crisis by drawing together the needs of both renters and landlords alike, instead of crudely playing them off against each other as has been the Government’s approach to date.

“The proposals include specific measures to encourage long term leases to give tenants secure occupancy and to allow families to consider renting as a longer term option. We have also outlined new measures to ensure ongoing rent affordability by restricting rent rises over the next few years.

“A new affordable rent sector will be developed to allow key workers to live and work in the city centre. It confronts homelessness by raising the rent supplement and keeping it under review thereby ensuring new properties are opened up for vulnerable households. Critically it addresses the central issue of supply and complements our national housing roadmap launched last April which outlined our plan to build 150,000 new homes by 2021.”

Cllr Paul McAuliffe said, “Quality of accommodation is a serious issue and a major focus of our strategy. Fianna Fáil is proposing a new local authority certificate scheme and an overhauled PRTB to help ensure that tenants can enjoy decent quality homes at a fair price.

“We will reduce PRTB complaint waiting times, set up a new deposit retention scheme and give it a central role in calculating allowable rent rises. The document also proposes a fast tracked eviction scheme for rogue tenants who purposely wreck homes and create a neighbourhood nuisance. This will help landlords to deal with the rare disruptive tenant who sets out to damage property and cause stress and hassle for their neighbours.”

Cllr Deirdre Heney commented, “Ultimately, supply is the critical issue at stake here. It’s the only long term solution to this crisis. Landlords need to be encouraged to stay in the system and attract fresh investment in the area.

“We are proposing to open up more units by reducing commercial rates on units with homes on the upper floors and using the Strategic Investment Fund to target cheap loans to promote development. Measures to ensure rent affordability will be put on a 5 year sunset clause and be subject to an on-going review to ensure they do not disrupt supply.”

Deputy Cowen concluded, “This Fianna Fáil strategy is an honest and realistic attempt to deal with Ireland’s housing emergency. It is my sincere hope that Minister Kelly and his colleagues can put the party political posturing to one side and move to implement the solutions we have offered as a matter of urgency.”

Generation Rent – A New Deal for Tenants and Landlords