In an effort to increase transparency and help Irish voters make an informed decision in tomorrow's general election, we have contacted all election candidates and asked them to say where they stand on a range of issues, including rent control. All candidates’ answers (or the answers provided by their party in some cases) are publicly available on the website www.whichcandidate.ie. Voters can also answer the questions and see which candidates they agree with in their constituency.
We asked candidates whether there should be tighter controls on rent, and candidates are almost evenly split on this question. 43% (188 candidates) said that rent increases should be capped in line with inflation; while 44% (193 candidates) said that current controls on rent were adequate. (The remaining 13% of candidates were either opposed to any controls on rent, or selected none of these options.)
Of the main parties, Sinn Féin, the Green Party, Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit and the Social Democrats are most in favour of greater rent controls, along with the vast majority of independent candidates. In contrast, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour say that the current controls are adequate, while Renua is the only party that is against any form of rent controls.
For voters who took the survey, a very different picture emerges. Over 30,000 people have taken the online survey, and almost 80% of respondents believe that rent increases should be capped in line with inflation (see graph below). This includes a majority of respondents in every age category and in each of the 40 constituencies. While this is not a representative sample of the population, it does suggest broad public support for greater rent controls.
It also suggests a disconnect between parties and voters on this issue. For example, while Labour and Fine Gael support the current system, 66% of Labour supporters and 55% of Fine Gael supporters believe that greater rent controls are needed. Renua supporters are the only group of voters who took the survey where a majority does not support greater rent controls.
If you want to vote for a candidate based on their position on this issue, you can see where they stand on the website. The site is run by the Department of Politics in UL, with funding from the Irish Research Council.
Dr Rory Costello is Lecturer at the University of Limerick's Department of Politics and Public Administration