That Dáil Éireann:
— average rents increased by 7 per cent in the last year according to the Q2 2021 Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) rent index report;
— in the RTB rent index report nine counties experienced average rent increases of more than 10 per cent and all counties experienced average rent increases of more than 4 per cent;
— the September Central Statistics Office (CSO) Consumer Price Index shows that the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices increased by 3.8 per cent in the last 12 months;
— the RTB rent review calculator currently shows rental inflation at 3.9 per cent;
— the August CSO Residential Property Price Register shows that house prices have increased by 10.9 per cent in the last year; and
— despite the spiralling cost of rents, Budget 2022 contained no specific measures to reduce the cost of private renting; and
agrees that the Government:
— should have increased direct capital investment in social and affordable housing in Budget 2022 to deliver 20,000 social and affordable homes including affordable cost rental homes next year;
— must introduce emergency measures to cut rents, such as a refundable tax credit to reduce rent by 8.3 per cent, putting one month’s rent back into renters’ pockets;
— must introduce an emergency three-year ban on rent increases for all existing and new tenancies in the private rental sector;
— must introduce a mandatory NCT-style certification for landlords to demonstrate compliance with minimum standards;
— must ensure that 25 per cent of all private rental tenancies are inspected annually by Local Authorities;
— must introduce real tenancies of indefinite duration by amending section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to remove sale and use by family member as grounds for eviction;
— must ensure the RTB has adequate staff to police and enforce Government rent regulations; and
— must work with all higher educational institutions to ensure the delivery of affordable student accommodation.
I apologise to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and the Minister for my delay. Excuse me while I catch my breath for a moment.
In the past ten years, the cost of renting in this city and across the State has increased by more than 100%. Ten years ago, the average cost of renting in parts of Dublin was €800 per month. Today, it is almost €2,000 for a standard two-bedroom house or apartment. In the past six years, and starting under the previous Government, rents in Dublin increased by 60% and across the State by 40%. While there was some indication during the initial stages of Covid that rents were beginning to stabilise, they have started to rise dramatically in the past year yet again. The most recent Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, rent index shows a 7% State-wide increase in the 12 months to the end of quarter 2. If one considers the county-by-county breakdown, though, the results are startling. We have started to see double-digit rent inflation in many county areas. In every county, rent increases for new and existing properties have exceeded 4% according to the RTB.
A number of months ago, the Minister introduced legislation to amend the rent pressure zones and he decided to link rent reviews to the consumer price index instead of the 4% cap. At the time, we told him that that was a mistake because rent inflation was already on an upward trajectory from 1.9% to 2.2% and then 3%. It has now almost hit 4%. I checked the RTB rent calculator earlier this week and 3.9% is the current rate of inflation.
As the Minister knows, the problem is not just about the significant financial hardship caused for renters. It is also about all of the other implications for their lives. Some 20% of households across the State rent and 25% of households in Dublin. Renters represent a cross-spectrum of society: young people, students, singles and couples desperate to save a deposit for a mortgage, people who lost their family homes following the Celtic tiger due to mortgage repossessions and defaults, people who lost their family homes due to relationship breakdowns and many people who are approaching retirement who have never had the opportunity to buy their own homes and are fearful of what the future may bring.
People had a legitimate expectation in the run up to budget 2022 that, rather than the Government indicating that it would move towards what we believe should be a three-year ban on rent increases, there would be specific measures in the budget to alleviate and reduce the skyrocketing cost of rent. The Minister will remember that he campaigned in the general election, as did Sinn Féin, for a refundable tax credit for renters to give them some relief as the easiest and quickest way of reducing the cost of rent. It speaks volumes about the Government's sincerity when it comes to renters that not a single mention of private renters and not a single measure to alleviate the great difficulty that high rents cause them were included in the budget. In fact, the only mention of the private rental sector, as the Minister knows, was the extension of his existing tax relief for landlords.
Since the Government has abjectly failed to do anything in budget 2022 to tackle the issue of sky-high rents, let alone standards for renters, we have tabled this motion to have a debate. The Minister knows our positions, which are longstanding: we want a three-year emergency ban on rent increases, we want to put a month's rent back into every renter's pocket and we want to see the Government not just investing a few tens of millions of euro into affordable cost rental, but hundreds of millions of euro annually to deliver thousands of public homes, including thousands of affordable cost-rental homes annually, starting from next year. We also want to see action on standards. We want to see increased resources for local authorities and inspections as well as an NCT-style certification. We want to see the RTB getting the additional staff it was meant to get almost two years ago to be able to police the rent pressure zones.
I do not believe that the Minister's approach to the private rental sector is working. I will respond to his comments at the end of the debate in terms of his record to date.
We urge the Government to stand by renters, to abandon the failed policies it has been pursuing in conjunction with Fine Gael for the past number of years and to do the right thing and ban rent increases, reduce rents and deliver a proper supply of affordable cost-rental accommodation.