Housing a big issue in General Election 2016

Posted on 5th February 2016

Now that the General Election has been called there are sure to be plenty of issues debated between now and polling day in three weeks’ time.

As ever, there are many pressing matters in the country with housing being amongst them.

Already the likes of Labour have offered to assist first-time buyers buy a home but staying away from auction politics there are serious issues that need to be addressed.

Homelessness is certainly one of them with far too many men, women and children remaining on our streets.

The housing lists in local authority areas are also far too big, with waits of up to a decade for accommodation. The fact these lists grew by 2% in the last two months shows the problem is worsening rather than getting better.

Then, of course, there is also the rental problem. While steps were taken last year to calm the rise of rents, it is still a major issue and the size of rents at present – particularly in urban areas – means that those renting cannot afford to save for the type of deposit needed to meet the Central Bank’s mortgage lending rules.

With the monthly cost of rent now quite often much more than the monthly cost of servicing a mortgage, surely it is time that people’s rental payments be factored in when they are applying for a mortgage?

This issue was raised by Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath last month with Central Bank Governor Philip Lane insisting he would look at it.

He told TDs: “A track record of paying rent has to be relevant when paying a mortgage.”

These and other issues will be important regardless of what way the next Government is made up. They are problems that aren’t going to go away in a hurry but one which our current and future political representatives need to be aware of.