Speech to Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Welcome speech by Mr Damien English T.D.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal

20 October 2016. Morrison Hotel, Dublin 1

Introduction

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by welcoming you and thanking you for joining Minister Coveney and myself this morning at this very important Stakeholder Consultation workshop on the development of a Strategy for the Rental Sector. 

Rebuilding Ireland and Rental Strategy

The Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness was launched in July 2016. Its vision is that to the greatest extent possible, every household in Ireland can access secure, good quality and affordable housing suited to its needs and located within sustainable communities. This is a vision that I fully support. The residential rental sector has a vital role to play in achieving this vision.

The residential rental sector is an essential component of the housing sector, and its vital role needs to be recognised and planned for. It has gone through considerable change over the last ten to fifteen years, doubling in size and providing long-term homes for more people.

This is why Rebuilding Ireland also commits to developing a real and meaningful strategy for the rental sector. This strategy which will be published by the end of the year, will lay out measures to address immediate issues affecting the supply, cost and accessibility of rental accommodation. It will also include measures to support the development of a viable and sustainable rental sector that can provide choice, quality, value and security for households and secure, attractive investment opportunities for rental providers.

Todays’ Stakeholder Forum

The purpose of todays’ event is to allow each of you as key stakeholders in this area to be provided with an opportunity to feed into the strategy and talk through the wider issues affecting the rental sector.  For example some of these are:

  • The growing numbers of families entering homelessness, often from the private rented sector
  • Rents are back at boom time levels;
  • The number of homes available to buy and rent is well below demand;
  • We are building less than half the homes we need and have done so for a number of years;
  • We have thousands of vacant houses and significant numbers of undeveloped sites, and,
  • Thousands of families, owner occupiers and landlords, are in mortgage arrears.

Round Table Discussion

As you signed in today you would have each been given an assigned table number, each table will be facilitated in the discussion around a range of issues by a moderator and a note taker. Key themes and questions have been assigned to each table and an hour and a half will be given to the discussion after which each moderator will be given 5 minutes to report back with the views of each table.

Today is not a negotiation among or with the different stakeholders, it is an opportunity to express and exchange opinions and to build understanding of the different needs and points of view. So while we are not trying to reach agreed positions on all the issues being discussed today it would be hoped that each table’s response would reflect a number of points of agreement and the key issues of ongoing debate. We have also assigned note takes to each table who will record a fair and accurate summary of the groups’ discussion; these notes will be collected by Department officials at the end of the session and will also be considered by working group tasked with assisting in the preparation of the strategy.

Written Consultation Process

While work has started on the development of the Strategy, this needs to be informed by the views and suggestions of as a wide range of groups and individuals as possible. I would like to invite you all to help inform this process by making a written submission. Following today’s event we will launch an on-line consultation guideline: this will provide you with the opportunity to make the written submission. The purpose of today’s discussions is to help inform those submissions. The document will be available on my Departments’ website or in hard copy, and submissions can be returned to my department up to Monday, November 7th to feed into the drafting process.

Conclusion

Thank you all for attending today and I wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution many of you present here today and the organisations you represent have already made. I hope you all have an interesting and engaging morning.

I will now hand over to my colleague Minister Simon Coveney to set the scene for our discussions today.

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