Minister says new housing strategy will learn from mistakes of the past

Simon Coveney has refused to commit to the introduction of rent control measures amid "unsustainable" price rises

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Simon Coveney. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Minister for Housing has said he is determined to learn from the mistakes of the past with the government's new housing strategy.

A new report has indicated that in the “best-case scenario,” rents could rise by 19% in Dublin - and 14% outside of the capital - by the end of 2018.

A new strategy for the rental sector is due to published within a month; however Housing Minister, Simon Coveney has so-far refused to say if it will include measures to control rising rents.

He said the current level of rent inflation is unsustainable but warned the government will not introduce policies that could make it less attractive to build new properties:

“I am determined to ensure that if we are going to add 50,000 houses to the social housing stock in Ireland, we are not going to do what was done in the seventies and eighties,” said Minister Coveney.

He said the strategy at the time saw social housing centred in certain areas of cities while other locations saw only private developments.

“That is a recipe for social disadvantage but it is also a recipe for political unrest, understandably, as people feel they are locked out of progress and opportunity,” he said.

Lecturer in housing at DIT, Lorcan Sirr said rents still have the potential to rise by as much as 25% nationally.

“That is a huge rise. If you think that the average rent in Dublin is €1,707 - add 25% to that and we are getting to levels where it becomes totally unaffordable for people,” he said.

He said high rents are fuelling higher wage demands from workers and warned the government has a lot to address within the new housing strategy:

The latest figures from Focus Ireland show that 736 families with 1389 children have become homeless in Dublin in the first 9 months of 2016.

The charity has called on the government to ensure the new housing strategy includes measures to help stabilise rents in the short-term.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said the new strategy must include measures to stabilise rents in the short-term while also protecting tenants when banks step in to repossess properties.

“Focus Ireland is committed to working with the Government to tackle this crisis but we do not shy away from saying more can be done and more must be done now on this serious issue,” he said.

“We need clear targets and timelines for delivery of homes if we are to end the nightmare of homelessness for all the families and children around the country who are living through this trauma every single day.”