Govt further examining investment fund housing issue
Discussions on how to stop financial investment companies buying large sections of housing estates are likely to continue across Government departments today.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has pledged that the Government will immediately deal with what he termed the “unacceptable” situation where first-time buyers are being forced to compete with institutional investors for homes.
The shortage of housing was back in the political spotlight last night as both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael politicians held party meetings.
The issue of investor funds has triggered much unease in both parties and across the entire Government amid deep political fears of rising public anger on the matter.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his party meeting that the Government wants to ensure this type of property acquisition does not become an enduring phenomenon.
Consideration is now being given to a number of options aimed at discouraging major investors from buying housing estates.
This could even extend to a ban on such investment with the Government keen to keep these companies focused on city areas where there is high density development.
There is particular concern that newly available homes are being bought by institutional investors and then in some cases leased back to local authorities.
As the two bigger parties in Government feel the heat on this issue, Fianna Fáil Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has been pencilled in to address the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting in two weeks’ time.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Green Party leader and the Minister for the Environment Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan he said it is a legally complex issue and “it may require legislation”.
He said there are a variety of solutions and that Minister O’Brien indicated he is looking to address it.
Mr Ryan said the best approach is in the planning system with regulations particularly in large estates.
“You can’t have one investor buy up an entire state.”
However, Mr Ryan said he did not think it is a widespread problem estimating “no more than 100 or 200 houses” bought up by these investor funds.
He said regulations can be set within planning permission to restrict the practice.
“You could say houses can be sold individually. it has to be worked out,” Mr Ryan added.
He added that there is still a need for investors with large-scale projects such as apartment blocks.
He said any decisions made will be part of a wider approach and said the Affordable Housing Bill introduced yesterday is going to be “key”.