As we know, the rate of rent increases has been spiralling out of control in recent years. Rents have been soaring across the country. We know from various surveys, particularly the most recent daft.ie survey, which related to the third quarter of 2016, that there have been extraordinary increases in rent inflation. The annual rate of rent inflation was 11.7% last year. This was the highest increase recorded since 2002. Up to 2013-14, Dublin was the major driver of national rental inflation. Other areas have caught up dramatically since 2012-13. Some extraordinary increases were recorded last year. There were rent increases of 14.4% in Cork city, 12.5% in Cork county, 13.27% in Limerick, 10% in Galway, 13% in Waterford city, 15% in Meath, 13% in Kildare, 15% in Louth and 10.6% in Wicklow. I have itemised those increases to give people a sense of the scale of rental inflation across the country, including key urban areas and commuter belt areas, over recent years. There is a need to bring these increases under control and bring clarity to this situation.
We acknowledge that there have been changes in recent months. The possibility of increasing rent supplement was resisted for many years until the confidence and supply agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael resulted in such an increase, despite misgivings in Fine Gael, as well as increases in payments under the housing assistance programme. We also acknowledge that there has been a long struggle in relation to rent certainty and clarity. The Labour Party tried to bring that about when it was a member of the last Government, but it failed to get a breakthrough. It must be acknowledged that there seems to have been strong resistance in Fine Gael to any idea of a rent cap or rent clarity.