Leo Varadkar defends decision to reject extension on rent freezes amid Covid-19 crisis
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Leo Varadkar defends decision to reject extension on rent freezes amid Covid-19 crisis

LEO VARADKAR has come out in defence of the Dail's decision to reject the proposal to extend the ban on rent increases amid the coronavirus crisis.

Currently, a rent-price freeze is in place, as well as a ban on evictions, and both will last for three months.

People Before Profit sought an amendment to the legislation - looking to extend the laws to last a full year - as the Dail considered a number of emergency coronavirus measures during Thursday's session.

They argued that the economic effect of the coronavirus crisis will last longer than the medical impact, and that housing security should reflect that.

However, any such amendment was rejected, narrowly, by a 25 to 23 vote, with Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and four Independents voting against it.

The Taoiseach argued firstly that current laws can be extended beyond three months anyway, but also that such a practice could discourage house-building and encourage landlords to simply take their properties off the market.

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He also pointed to examples of rent freezes being counter-productive.

"We know rent freezes for example in places like San Francisco didn't work," Varadkar said.

"Landlords just sold up," he pointed out, adding that fewer properties were available to rent.

"We know in Berlin that even the announcement of a rent freeze caused investors and developers and builders to build fewer homes and more hotels and offices instead because the return was better."