The inclusion of the Fermoy Electoral Area as a Rent Pressure Zone is a welcome announcement for those renting in the area. The main aim of Rent Pressure Zones (RPT) is to give certainty to those who are renting, as rent increases are capped at 4% per year. For those who have experienced large increases in rent over the last few years, this would bring some long-term stability to rent prices and allow them to plan for the future.
A second element of RPTs is the effective banning of short-term letting. This was a particular problem in large urban areas such as Dublin, where landlords were moving their properties from long-term renting to short-term letting. This involves the letting of a property through websites such as Airbnb. This removes property from the rental sector, and therefore increases the cost of rent. For a person to engage in the short-term letting of a property that is not their principle residence, they must apply to Cork County Council for planning permission for a change of use.
The impact of this on the Fermoy Electoral Area is different to large urban areas. There are many properties in the area that are being let as part of the rural tourism sector. Unlike Dublin or Cork, there is not a lot of accommodation choices for people visiting the area. The number of hotel and B&B beds on any given night is limited, so passing tourists rent out renovated cottages in the villages dotted across the area. This is an important part of the local economy and provides the necessary accommodation for the development of rural tourism.
Minister Murphy will have to provide greater clarity to Cork County Council and to those providing this accommodation so that the solving of one problem (rent rises) does not create another problem.