Carrigaline Rent Inequality: Minister Needs To Help
Carrigaline Rent Inequality: Minister Needs To Help Writes Jack White & Leo McMahon
The ridiculous situation in Carrigaline, where one half of the village is included in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), while the other half isn’t, has once again been highlighted, following the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government’s response to Cork County Council after the council’s proposal to get the southern half of Carrigaline designated as a rent pressure zone. Areas in RPZs can only see rent increases rise by a maximum of 4% per annum. The northern half of the village, which falls under the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal district, had been designated a Rent Pressure Zone by the Residential Tenancies Board in early 2017 whilst the southern half, which falls under the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal district, was not included, despite being subject to the same rental pressures as the remainder of Carrigaline. Co-incidentally, the anomoly occurs in the constituency of Housing Minister Simon Coveney. ‘This response does nothing to address the fears and worries of people in the southern side of Carrigaline with regard to their rent which is ever increasing,’ so stated Cllr Eoghan Jeffers (SF), who, with some other members at Monday’s meeting of Cork County Council, rejected a letter from the private secretary to Minister for Housing Simon Coveney TD in response to the call for designation of the southern side of Carrigaline as a Rent Pressure Zone. Despite being in the Bandon-Kinsale municipal district, the southern half of Carrigaline does meet the criteria to be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone as set out in section 24A (4) of the Residential tenancies Act 2004 (as amended by section 36 of the planning and Development and Residential Tenancies Act 2016). The letter in response to concern expressed by councillors pointed out that the Minister had no further role or discretion in proposing areas for designation or deciding on same. However, it stated that the Housing Agency could, in consultation with local authorities, make a proposal to the Minister, who would then request the director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to conduct an assessment to see if the criteria for designation was met and report back to him. For an area to qualify for the RPZ, the annual rate of rent inflation must have been 7% or more in the four of the last six quarters and the average rent for tenancies registered in the area with the RTB in the last quarter had to be above the average national rent in the last quarter. The letter added that the Housing Agency would continue to monitor the rental market and may recommend further areas for designation. ‘It beggar’s belief why the Minister let this happen’, said Cllr Jeffers who had a motion in February seeking inclusion of the southern side of Carrigaline into the RPZ adopted. ‘How he couldn’t envisage in his own town, that two housing markets would develop is an incredible situation. He need only come out of his constituency office, (on the western side of Main Street, Carrigaline), and look left and see that those people renting have protection and look right and see that those on the southern side do not.’ Cllr Jeffers asked that the council make a submission to the Minister asking that the southern side of Carrigaline be included in the RPZ and write to the Minister asking him to change the criteria so that other areas in Co. Cork be included. Speaking on the bizarre nature of the situation, local councillor and County Mayor Seamus McGrath said, “It is totally indefensible that the south side of Carrigaline is not included in the rent pressure zone. Carrigaline as a Town clearly meets the criteria and given that the north side of Carrigaline is included, how can it be argued that the same pressure is not on the southside? Of course it can’t be argued, it is absolutely illogical and unjustifiable. As a Public Representative, I am only too aware of the difficulties this is causing for tenants on the south side. This is issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Unfortunately, it highlights once again the nonsensical division of Carrigaline between two electoral areas. This is yet another manifestation of how the division is completely unworkable from a practical point of view. It was agreed at the meeting to write to the Housing Agency requesting it to include the south side of Carrigaline. In response to a query from The Carrigdhoun, The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government said, “Local Electoral Areas may split towns. It is possible that parts of a town are included in Rent Pressure Zones while other parts are not. The Residential Tenancies Board’s Rent Pressure Zone Calculator indicates whether or not an address is in a Rent Pressure Zone. The fact that a property is not in a RPZ does not mean that the landlord can raise the rent to any level they wish. The rent can only be set to the level of current market rents and the landlord is required to show three similar properties with rents at the levels which the landlord proposes to set. In the legislation, the ‘area’ that can be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone is defined as either the administrative area of a housing authority or a Local Electoral Area within the meaning of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001. There is no provision for any other type of area to be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone. The issue of areas will be looked at in the review of RPZs in June 2017.