“The housing crisis in our country constitutes a national emergency. The crisis is multifaceted, but one of the most urgent elements is the spiralling cost of rented accommodation. In negotiating our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil made it clear that there needed to be a step change in the energy and resources applied to this problem.
“In July, Minister Simon Coveney sought proposals on what should be done to tackle the dysfunctional rental market. Fianna Fáil engaged constructively and professionally with this process, submitting twelve distinct proposals.
“Following an intensive negotiation process, Fianna Fáil has achieved significant progress on ten out of these twelve proposals.
“We have not achieved everything we sought, but as a result of Fianna Fáil intervention, there will now be an immediate examination of the market conditions in Limerick city, Galway city, Waterford city, areas contiguous to Cork city and the commuter belt surrounding Dublin in counties Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. It is expected that most, if not all, of these areas will be included within the scheme. We have secured extra resources for the Private Residential Tenancies Board to deal with this new timeframe. These protections will be extended from January 2017, benefitting approximately 100,000 additional households.
“As a result of our negotiations and amendments to the Bill introducing the scheme, there will now be a review of the scheme and the effectiveness of its qualifying criteria in June 2017. Additionally, the timeframe for examination of other markets outside the areas named above has been reduced from eight weeks to three weeks.
“We have also secured changes to the scheme which will ensure that any landlord seeking exemptions from the rent cap will have to demonstrate that significant improvements have been made to the property, closing a significant loophole in the original scheme.
“Convincing Fine Gael to accept rent control in areas of high pressure is a major achievement. Our research suggests that this will benefit 150,000 households in the first instance and a further 100,000 from next month.
“It is a source of some regret that Minister Simon Coveney failed to consult in any meaningful way with my party or I in advance of his announcement of the details of this scheme. It has caused unnecessary and counter-productive friction.
“However, I am pleased that for the first time in the history of the state, the Dáil is now in a position to introduce rent certainty measures that will protect tenants and help address some of the issues currently distorting our rental market”.