As we all know, the housing crisis is the result of more than 30 years of Government policy, during which the State moved away from the provision of social housing. Rent certainty would be the best Christmas gift the Government could give to the thousands of people who are at risk of losing their homes because of rising rents. The homelessness situation is at an all-time high and the solution of limiting rent increases to 4% per year will only exacerbate the problem.
I personally know of two instances in the past two weeks where people are being forced to vacate their homes because of rent increases. A friend of mine living in Bray had his rent increased from €1,500 per month to €1,900 per month. As a result, he had to leave his home and has moved to his parents' family home. My niece has also had her rent increased, from €1,100 to €1,700 per month, and has to move out, but she cannot find alternative accommodation in Dublin. These exorbitant rent increases will make more people homeless and are totally unjustifiable.
If people in rented accommodation at the moment are unable to pay their rent, how can a policy of allowing landlords increase rent by 4% per year help the situation? The Peter McVerry Trust stated that rents will rise from the present monthly average of €1,545 to a monthly average of €1,737 in three years. Inflation is at 0.5% at present so what is happening is that landlords are being allowed to increase their profits while more and more people are becoming homeless.
The definition of insanity is to think that if we keep the landlords happy the market will provide. I, for one, am shocked that the Government thinks that rent predictability is better than rent affordability. I have a question for the Leader. Are the profits of landlords more important to the Government than the need for affordable accommodation for families or is it that the Government is not in touch with the people of this country? Can it not see what is happening? Whole communities are being devastated by increasing rents and it is time to tackle this problem and show the people of this country that we care.