The Dáil is to continue debating the Government's rental legislation on Friday morning after it ran into drafting difficulties. 

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has requested an amendment to his amendment on the bill after an error was pointed out by a Sinn Féin TD.

Eoin Ó Broin claimed that the way the Government had drafted the legislation would result in an 8% increase for renters in year one, rather than 4%.

Mr Coveney said that conclusion was understandable but it was never the intention.

He said it was a drafting error that he was anxious to correct.

The Minister explained that the two-year rent freeze brought in by former housing minister Alan Kelly still remained. 

He clarified that in rent pressure zones, at the next rent review the 4% ceiling applies and thereafter it would be a maximum of 4% annually. 

Mr Coveney said "in relation to the first rent review within a rent pressure zone, if a person had not had a review in two years, then if a ceiling of 4% per year was being applied per year, then the calculation would have been 8% and that was never the intention.

"The whole point of this is to be able to say to renters, initially across Dublin and Cork, that if your area is a rent pressure zone you will not have a rent increase of more than 4% .Thereafter you will not have a rent increase of more than 4% a year."

He said they were introducing an amendment to ensure that there is not an unintended consequence. 

Discussions on the Planning and Development Housing and Residential Tenancies Bill will resume at 11.30am. 

Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger warned that the debate could go into the early hours of Saturday morning. 

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The legislation was subject to much debate even before reaching Leinster House this evening, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael holding extensive meetings to reach a deal on the measures.

Despite these meetings, earlier the AAA/PBP's Paul Murphy said the proposals are almost exactly the same as what was presented yesterday, despite Fianna Fáil's 'huffing and puffing.' 

The 4% cap has been criticised by a number of TDs, including Labour's Jan O'Sullivan and Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats.

Kenny defends housing strategy

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the Government's housing strategy as a "carefully structured, carefully thought-out process."

Speaking following an EU summit in Brussels, Mr Kenny said the process was designed to deal with taxation, which would be reflected on in a commission to be set up in January, with how to identify and authorise a rent-pressure zone, and with the notion of a 4% cap on rents.

He said the process had been designed "to protect many thousands of tenants in rented properties who would be fearful over the Christmas and New Year period."

Mr Kenny added that "this is only part of the overall comprehensive programme for housing that Government have put together, the most comprehensive in the history of the State."

He said it would deal with the supply of housing in all its forms, including the returning of "voids" to good use, social housing, boosting private sector construction, as well as public-private partnership construction on public lands.

Legislation to be spread to seven more areas

Under the planned legislation, a 4% annual limit on rent increases will be introduced in Dublin and Cork city once it is passed.

It has also been agreed that Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and Louth, as well as areas around Cork city will be immediately assessed to see if they qualify to have a limit on rent increases imposed.

The cities of Galway, Limerick and Waterford will also be included in this first phase of assessment.

The first results of these assessments are due to be completed in January.

There will also be a review of how areas are assessed as designated areas in June next year.