Sinn Féin’s call for rent controls is another example of economic ignorance

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, has today (Thursday) criticised Sinn Féin’s lazy and ill-informed call for rent controls as a solution to the housing issue. Sinn Féin have called for rent controls following the publication of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) report.

“Sinn Féin has today continued its campaign of objecting for objections sake in relation to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) report. This report details how the introduction of rent control into the Irish market would make the situation worse and would lead to fewer properties being made available to tenants. Sinn Féin is looking at this issue from a very simplistic point of view, and is again demonstrating their poor judgement and lack of economic know-how.

“There is no doubt that there is a real and a very serious problem when it comes to housing. Too many people are in a situation where they cannot buy a house and where they are finding it increasingly difficult to rent due to rising prices. However rent controls are not the easy, fix-all solution that Sinn Féin would lead us to believe.

“There are a number of reasons why rent controls do not work, they can strangle investment and in many countries where rent controls are in place, properties are run-down and dilapidated. There is no incentive for landlords to improve or to maintain their properties. It’s also the case that when rent controls were in place in Ireland, the Supreme Court ruled them as unconstitutional.

“The Government recognises that housing is a major issue for people across the country and, for that reason, investment in new housing infrastructure has been given priority in Budget 2015. Over 7,500 new homes will be provided under a range of housing initiatives, almost €800 million will be spent on housing and there will be a major acceleration of local authority direct construction and acquisition, which will more than quadruple the amount of social housing units delivered through this mechanism – from 200 in 2014 to 946 in 2015.

“Saying no to rent controls is not just ‘another sop to landlords’ as claimed by Sinn Féin; this is a sensible and economically sound outlook, something Sinn Féin don’t seem to know much about and backed up by the recent report by the PRTB.

“It’s very easy to claim that rent controls would be the solution to our problems. Unfortunately that is not the case. We need to look at opening up more boarded housing and at making land available to housing agencies which can build without delay. A quick solution is needed, but this must be to the long-term benefit of tenants and of the economy. This is another example of Sinn Féin’s populist, short-term, ‘stick a plaster on it’ approach; it does nothing for the rental market and does not provide the solutions that are needed by tens of thousands of families.”