That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to reduce rents to affordable levels by limiting them to a maximum of a quarter of monthly household incomes and to establish a National Rent Authority for this purpose.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to reduce rents to affordable levels by limiting them to a maximum of a quarter of median monthly household incomes and to establish a national rent authority to oversee this. There will an exclusion for luxury accommodation because we do not particularly want to control the rents of multimillionaires who are renting penthouses or luxury suites.
The need to control rents should be self-evident, as is the total failure of the Government to do so. Rent pressure zones have failed spectacularly in controlling rents. In the last decade, average rents have increased by more than 100%. In the last year alone, they have gone up by 12%. They have now reached truly obscene levels. While they are going up literally every week, at the last count, the average rent in my area was €2,200 and you would be lucky to find somewhere for that these days. We should think about that. That is impossible for the vast majority of working people. Somebody on an average income would have to fork out approximately 70% of income to meet that rent. Needless to say, great numbers of people simply cannot do that and are therefore being driven into homelessness. The income of working people who go out, work hard and do all the right things is, at the end of the week, not even close to enough to pay these absolutely extortionate rents. We have to do something about it.
By the way, this is also costing the State money. We have no choice but to support people on lower incomes and to give them the housing assistance payment, lease arrangements and rental accommodation scheme payments but that is costing the State approximately €1 billion a year, a figure that is also rising. It is insanity. The public, the taxpayer and the State are being absolutely crucified by these corporate landlords that are charging extortionate rents. Ordinary people simply cannot afford them and many are driven into homelessness and absolutely desperate situations.
Yesterday, I raised the case of Anthony and Niamh, who are still homeless. They have two children but the only thing they have been offered since they were made homelessness having been unable to find anywhere to rent after being evicted on the grounds of sale is one bedroom for them and their two children in a hostel in town when the two kids go to school in the Sallynoggin area. One of the couple works in Bray and the other in Sallynoggin. The only offer they got was one room for four people in a hostel in Gardiner Street. It is shocking. I am not exaggerating when I say I am dealing with approximately 12 cases of households, the vast majority of which comprise people who have kids and who are working, who are going to be in the same situation in the coming weeks. It is absolutely shameful. The high rents are directly contributing to this problem.
The Government will say that eventually supply will reduce rents. That is absolute nonsense. There is no evidence at all to suggest that. Even when we had record levels of supply during the Celtic tiger period, rents did not go down but continued to rise, as did house prices. When you look at what developers are building at the moment, you will see that extortionate rents are being charged for what is being supplied. We have to do something about this. It is obvious that we have to deliver public and affordable housing but another key part of addressing this crisis is to control and set rents, as is done in many other countries. I very much doubt that the Government will agree with this but we will fight hard and campaign for the introduction of a proper rent control regime.