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“Minister confirms Local Councillors have no say in final rent hike decisions,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for an urgent revaluation of the process under which changes to the Differential Rent Scheme is conducted. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, confirmed to him a parliamentary reply that the making or amending of the rent scheme is not a reserved function and does not require the approval of the locally elected members:

“I find the Minister's reply deeply disturbing in that it exposes a key weakness in our local democratic structures.

What the Minister has essentially confirmed is that local councillors can make representations morning noon and night to the Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council but it has absolutely no legal standing in terms of being able to put a stop to the rent hikes.

So in theory the Council could treble the rent and there would not be a single thing that local councillors could do about that even if they were blue in the face from bringing people's concerns to the Council.

This is an outrageous position to adopt and one that must be urgently re-examined in light of the massive concerns that people are expressing over the unilateral decision of the Council to merge the nine differential rent schemes.

What I also find very ominous is the confirmation that the Minister's Department is developing a draft national differential rents framework under section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

This would have the clear effect of making it even it more difficult for local councillors to have their concerns addressed in any meaningful way.

In the midst of the states greatest ever housing crisis this is hardly the right or sensible way to approach these matters,” concluded Deputy McGrath.