DUBLIN Dec 15 Ireland's government struggled on
Thursday to secure parliamentary support for residential rent
controls, risking a period of uncertainty for the market and
highlighting the weakness of the minority administration.
The government says a bill imposing temporary controls that
would limit annual increases initially in Ireland's two largest
cities to 4 percent must be passed within days, before a past
intervention limiting rent reviews to every two years lapses.
It does not have enough seats in parliament to pass laws its
own, however, and requires the cooperation of the main
opposition party, Fianna Fail, which wants to lower the cap to 2
percent and apply it more widely to win support in parliament.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the two sides were stuck
on whether other areas should be immediately designated as "rent
pressure zones" alongside Dublin and Cork. Talks on finding a
compromise broke up without agreement late on Wednesday.
The bill was due to be introduced in parliament on Thursday,
the last day the lower house is scheduled to sit before the
"I am available to try and find a way forward this morning
but what I will not do is make decisions today for political
convenience knowing that it is the wrong thing to do," Coveney,
a member of the ruling Fine Gael party, told national
"If we start restricting rents across the country on the
basis of what is politically popular, we are going down a very
dangerous road and I will not do that. If we get it wrong, we
will destabilise a broken market even further."
While Ireland was left with a surplus of houses after a 2008
property crash, supply has since failed to come anywhere close
to matching demand in the fast-recovering economy, sending rents
back above their peak in the "Celtic Tiger" years.
The government last year intervened in the market to limit
reviews to every two years, meaning if the new regime is not put
in place some tenants in Dublin and Cork could face sharp hikes
from January when the first rent reviews are due to take place.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Catherine Evans)