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Labour Party insist three-year rent freeze would not be unconstitutional

The smaller parties have been launching their policies in the Irish General Election on day eight of the campaign.


Houses in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Houses in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Houses in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The Labour Party has said a temporary rent freeze for three years would not be unconstitutional.

Fianna Fail has published legal advice stating that the roll out of a rent freeze would be unconstitutional and has said it will introduce a special savings top up scheme for First Time Buyers and will expand the Help To Buy Scheme.

Fine Gael has ruled out rent freezes and said it would support first time buyers by increasing the grant under the Help to Buy Scheme by 10,000 euro to 30,000 euro.

Announcing its housing policy on Wednesday, the Labour Party pledged to introduce a three-year rent freeze, introduce a rent to buy scheme and said it will ban the practice of landlords asking for more than one month’s rent as a deposit.

Labour Party housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said on Wednesday she received legal advice that a rent freeze would be only be unconstitutional if it was for an indefinite period.

“I spoke to our legal adviser and it would be unconstitutional if it was indefinite and if it was over a long period of time.

“You can only put rent up once a year and basically we would be extending that to three years. We are absolutely certain this there is not a legal problem doing this.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein said it will abolish the local property tax, re-introduce the State pension at 65, make all income under 30,000 euro exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC)  and abolish the local property tax.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said in Government, the party would “put more money back in the pockets of workers”.

“It will mean that no USC is paid on the first 30,000 euro you earn, putting up to 700 euro back in the pocket of every worker in the State each year. 

“This will take one million workers out of the USC. And crucially, it will benefit all workers.

Mr Doherty also pledged a rent freeze: “Sinn Fein is the only party in this election that is committed to reducing rents and then freezing them for a period of three years.”

“Sinn Fein will abolish the Local Property tax, introduced by Fine Gael and Labour with the support of Fianna Fail, saving families an average of 244 euro at current rates.”

People Before Profit launched their manifesto on Wednesday and said it is “now time to break the cycle of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.”

People Before Profit want to restore the pension age to 65, make housing a human right and have pledged 33 hours of free childcare per week for parents.

PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett said: “It is clear that the message of leaving behind the failed past of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail is resonating loudly as the campaign progresses with now a majority of people looking for alternative to the two major parties and demanding a different future.

“This could be and earthquake moment in Irish political history, the political equivalent of the repeal moment and we would urge voters to come out and vote in the largest numbers possible and grab this historic opportunity for change with both hands.”