One in five families across the State lives in rented accommodation and one quarter of all households in Dublin rent. Renters are working single people and couples, some desperately trying to save for a deposit. They are separated and divorced people, in some instances, who have lost their family home. They are families recovering from mortgage distress. Renters are students forced to choose between sky-high rents and a crippling commute. They are modest-income earners approaching retirement who never had a chance to buy their own home and who now look nervously to the future. They are 300,000 households and 750,000 people. That is who renters are.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been in government together for five years, first in confidence and supply and now in their coalition Government. During that time, the cost of renting has spiralled out of control. Average rents now stand at €1,352 State wide and €1,848 in Dublin. Today, an average-income worker renting in Dublin pays more than €22,000 a year in rent - more than half their take-home pay. Renters, of course, still have to put food on the table, provide for their children and face the massive gas and electricity bills. As things stand, those who wish to get a deposit together do not stand a chance of doing so. They are locked into what can only be described as a nightmare.
It took a pandemic for the Government to introduce emergency protections for renters, but since the Taoiseach has been in office, all these protections have been stripped away by his Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien. The result is that rents have started to spiral out of control yet again. The long-promised supply of affordable cost-rental accommodation has not materialised. However, the Government's tax breaks for vulture funds continue. This means they can still gobble up apartments, for which they charge extortionate rents to the tenants concerned.
To top it all, the Government announced a budget yesterday that did nothing for renters. Why is this? Not a single measure in budget 2022 will alleviate the financial pressures faced by renters. There was no move to cut rents or ban rent increases, no measures to improve standards or security of tenure. The Tánaiste has stated one person's rent is another person's income. While this budget does nothing for struggling renters, it made damn sure big landlords still get their income, given that the only private rented sector measure in the Government's budget is an extension of a tax break for landlords.
Tá sé go hiomlán scannalach nach raibh aon rud sa bhuiséad do chíosaithe atá ag streachailt. Tá cíosanna imithe ó smacht ar fad agus tá na cíosaithe croíbhriste leis an gcostas maireachtála atá ag ardú, ach ní raibh dada ann dóibh.
Why has the Taoiseach's Government refused to show up for renters, people who are facing extortionate rents? When will it cut rents, ban rent increases and provide tenants and renters with the security and affordability they so desperately need and so rightly deserve?