Housing minister declines to give rental pressure zone commitment for Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking at the opening of the new Lord Edward Street housing development

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking at the opening of the new Lord Edward Street housing development Picture: Sean Curtin

HOUSING Minister Eoghan Murphy has declined to say if and when Limerick will be included within the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ).

This comes despite huge pressure to introduce rent controls in the city, which has seen the average price for tenants rise 19.1% year-on-year.

Metropolitan councillors have already written to the Dublin TD’s department requesting the city’s inclusion, while former Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan has been vocal in her calls for ​RPZs to be introduced here.

If Limerick was included as an RPZ, it would mean that rents can only increase by 4% annually.

Limerick is Ireland’s only major city not to have these rent controls.

But answering questions from the media, Mr Murphy said the city has not yet met the criteria to be included as an RPZ.

“We do have challenges when it comes to renting up and down the country. At the moment, I’m working on a piece of legislation to try and bring in a better and more mature rental sector in this country so we can have balanced rights both for tenants in existing tenancies plus landlords. We need to get more landlords into the market as well to open larger rent schemes,” he said.

Mr Murphy said a key challenge is to bring more homes into a dwindling rental sector.

“By doing that, there will be more offers for people and more choices. It will have a stabilising effect as well. We do have Rent Pressure Zone legislation. It is new legislation. There are two different types of qualifying criteria to enter into that. To date, it hasn’t been successful in that regard. But I am reviewing how this legislation is working,” the minister said, pointing out it is relatively new, having only been brought in, in 2016.

Ms Murphy was speaking after the opening of a new social housing development at the former Tait’s factory in Lord Edward Street.

He namechecked his former coalition colleague Ms O’Sullivan, who secured the €19m for the project on her watch. The Labour TD told him that there was more to do when it comes to housing.

“Yet again the city has been excluded from the rent pressure zones. There has also been little action on new housing developments apart from those already announced. The council has also identified a number of sites that would be suitable for social housing and the minister needs to pull his finger out and ensure progress is made,” she added.

Mr Murphy’s predecessor in housing, Simon Coveney had previously said Limerick would be included in the RPZs by this year.