Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor
A war of words erupted in the Seanad this week after Carlow was left out of the latest Rent Pressure Zone designations.
However, the Graiguecullen-Portarlington Electoral Areas were included and will see yearly rent increases capped at 4%.
The designations come on foot of the Residential Tenancies Board’s Rent Index Report for Q1 2019 and is produced in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor said: "Carlow has yet again been left out.
"Graiguecullen-Portarlington in County Laois has now been designated a rent pressure zone even though the majority of Graiguecullen is in the Carlow electoral area.
"As much as that electoral area is rural, in one estate straddling the border of Laois and Carlow, the private rents are actually higher on the Carlow side.
"Carlow should have been included and I am gutted it was not. Rents in Carlow are between €950 or €1,000 and €1,600 per month despite the figures from Department statements which state rents are approximately €800 per month.
"Those figures are totally wrong and that is why Carlow is not qualifying. There is a population of 16,425 in Carlow town.
"The local authority rent caps are almost double that of the neighbouring local authorities so tenants from all sectors of society are being hit over and over again.
"I want the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to come into the Seanad to explain the thinking behind this. It does not seem right at all and it is unfair that we in Carloware not getting what we should.
"We should be included in the rent pressure zones. It is unfair and we are always forgotten."
In response, Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer said: "I am surprised that Senator Murnane O'Connor asked why Carlow was not included as a rent pressure zone.
"First, it did not meet the criteria as set out in legislation. Second, it was not a political choice and the Minister was not involved in it. The decision was made on the basis of factual data."
And Senator Murnane O'Connor added: "It was not."
Senator Buttimer hit back and said: "The necessary conditions did not arise in the case of Carlow. The legal criteria were applied without ministerial interference.
"The Senator voted for the Bill when it came before the House. If she wants to have a real and honest debate about rent pressure zones, we can have such a debate.
"I ask her not to come in here throwing political points around when she knows the full facts better than most."
Senator Murnane O'Connor added: "If the Minister can come down to Carlow and find a house to rent for €800 a month, I will thank him."
For an area to be designated a Rent Pressure Zone, the average rent in the previous quarter must be above the average national rent in the quarter.
The annual rate of rent inflation in the area must have been 7% or more in four of the last six quarters
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