27 July 2000 Edition

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Rent control setback

There are over 264,000 people living in rented accommodation in the 26 Counties. Over the past five years many of these households have seen the cost of this accommodation double and treble. There are almost no checks on the quality of this housing and there is little regulation of the landlords who rent these properties.

For the past year a Commission on the Private Residential Sector has been analysing the situation of tenants and landlords. The commission's deliberations have not yet been made public, however last week their long awaited report was leaked to the media.

The commission proposes that tenants should have a right to longer leases and that a register of landlords be set up. It does not support progressive measures such as the implementation of rent control or the recently introduced stamp duty on residential investments.

What it does suggest is the establishment of a Private Residential Tenancies Board which would arbitrate between landlords and tenants.

Nothing in the details of the leaked report suggests that the current massive exploitation of tenants in the private sector will end. There will be no checks on rent increases. Instead much of the leaked details deal with ensuring landlords are not driven away from the sector.

In short it seems that the commission has failed to properly address the needs of tenants. They must publish their report as soon as possible so a proper examination of their proposals can be debated in public rather than leaking selective details now.

Blaming workers

Alan Greenspan, chairperson of the US Federal Reserve can collapse markets with just a couple of words. Last week he managed to rally the ailing euro with just a hint that he thought that US exchange rates would not have to rise.

However his other quotes also bear close attention. Earlier this month Greenspan claimed that one of the reasons for the growing economy in the US was its flexible labour market. It was much easier in the USA to ``introduce new equipment and displace existing workers''.

Businesses in Europe face higher costs replacing of workers with new technologies according to Greenspan. Greenspan was advocating that governments in Europe and Japan follow the US example because it was holding their economies back.

It must be one of the best reasons aired in a while for why workers are to blame for a governments poor economic performance - It is too difficult and costly to sack them.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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