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12.05 18 Apr 2018


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The Minister for Housing is set to seek an increase in State funds for the Residential Tenancies Board after it warned it will need 'new resources' to protect renters.

Eoghan Murphy yesterday announced plans to give the RTB increased powers to regulate the rental market - and prosecute landlords who breach rental rules.

In a statement this morning, the RTB said it will need "new resources to ensure the effective implementation of these new measures."

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Murphy admitted funding will be key if the plan is to have any effect.

"From next year - and this is something that I will be discussing in the budget negotiations with the minister for finance and public expenditure - I will be looking for increased resources for the RTB," he said.

"I mean there is much more than this that we are planning to do to make them an independent regulator.

"We want annual registration of tenancies, we want much more transparency around the sector in general and we want them to be able to strike that balance between landlords  and tenants and have a robust role in defending both."

The Rental Tenancies Act will make it a criminal offence for landlords to breach the 4% Rent Pressure Zone increase limit and force them to give longer notice periods to tenants before serving a notice to quit.

The new legislation also aims to introduce rent transparency by establishing a register to record rents paid at a property and make them publicly available.

Silver bullet

Minister Murphy defended the Government's efforts to bring the housing crisis under control - but insisted there is no instant solution available.

He insisted moves to prevent land hoarding are also having an effect - with the Vacant Site Levy (VSL) set to rise to 10% of the value of the land from next year.

Last week, Housing expert Lorcan Sirr warned that we are building far less homes than the Government claims.

He said between 9,000 and 10,000 homes were built last year.

He also warned that the Vacant Site Levy is ineffective as land values are "going up by 15% every year."

Minister Murphy said planning permission has been granted for 20,000 - with construction commenced on 18,000.

Vacant homes

He insisted the number of vacant homes around the country is "dramatically lower" than previously thought.

He said the CSO reported 180,000 vacant homes around the country, however a "desktop exercise" in the department found that up to 90,000 of them were located in 'high demand' areas.

Department officials then determined that many were tied up in the Fair Deal scheme, rebate or were already on the market - bringing the estimate down to around 25,000.

The minister said Department of Housing vacancy teams have been visiting properties in each of the local to find out if they are "truly vacant."

"In some instances it might have gone in a particular local authority area from a few thousand to less than 100," he said.

"It is not the silver bullet that people thought it was.

"People thought it was this great opportunity that we could get at least four years of supply back into the market in a couple of years through vacancy - the number is dramatically lower than that."

The Government plans to build around 3,800 social homes this year- with the exact locations to be announced tomorrow.

You can listen back to Minister Murphy's full appearance on Newstalk Breakfast here:


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