Laois TD Brian Stanley has called for an emergency three year nationwide rent freeze.
The Sinn Fein TD was speaking on the matter in the Dail recently where he hit out at the government’s handling of the matter.
According to deputy Stanley, figures released recently by Daft.ie highlight that rents continue to escalate massively in Laois and Offaly.
Despite Covid, rents in Laois went up by 3.4% in the past 12 months while in Offaly they shot up by 6.6%.
He said: “This comes on top of skyrocketing increases during the previous five years.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the decision by the Government today to extend the emergency eviction ban until 2022, but this ban should be extended to all renters, not just those who fall within the limited definition put forward by the Minister.
“Just 475 renters have been able to avail of the Government’s Covid-19 rent protections, despite 3,800 being in rent arrears. The current legislation is simply not working.
“It is important that we recognise that we are all facing a period of economic uncertainty before the economy recovers and people are fully back to work.
“Renters who work in the hospitality sector, for example, face a very uncertain period. Many of them face reduced hours and precarious circumstances.
“We need to provide protection across the board for renters who have been put in this precarious position through no fault of their own.
“Sinn Féin has submitted an amendment to the Bill to deal with the issue of tenants who face an increase in rent in the region of 8% due to a loophole in the legislation.
“This concern has been raised with me by constituents, even those in rent pressure zones, who expect many landlords to take advantage of the loophole in the legislation that currently allows them to increase rent by 8% following the rent freeze during the Covid period.
“Only three municipal districts in Laois–Offaly are designated as rent pressure zones, namely the Portlaoise–Abbeyleix district, the Portarlington–Graiguecullen district, and the Tullamore municipal district in Offaly.
“The Mountmellick–Borris-in-Ossory district in Laois and the Edenderry and Birr municipal districts in Offaly are not covered. In these areas, it is the Wild West. Landlords are free to raise rents any way they wish. That is no way to provide housing.
“An emergency three-year rent freeze is required to stop rents from escalating further and to ease the significant pressure on low paid workers who are renting.
“Many families, particularly those in precarious employment situations, will simply not be able to meet significant increases and this can and should be dealt with as part of this legislation. I appeal to the Government parties to accept our amendment.’’
Mr Stanley also called for an increased supply of houses.
He said: “On a final note, we need more of a supply and everybody knows that. This is not said in support of the nonsense that the Tánaiste came out with last weekend where he was going to magic up 40,000 houses, but we do need increased supply.
“Increased supply does not automatically translate into reduced rents or house prices.
“The House does not need to believe me but we can look back at 2006 when we built more than 90,000 houses and rents and the price of houses shot up.”