News & Media

Zero change from Government on housing crisis

18 May 2021

Statement by Senator Rebecca Moynihan
Seanad Leader and spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage
  • Government putting window dressing on investor funds continuing to buy up housing
  • Planning guidelines for owner-occupied housing will be at the discretion of the planning authority between 0 and 50%
  • No vacant home tax

Labour housing spokesperson Senator Rebecca Moynihan said the Government response to supply issues in the housing crisis is not a ramping up of housing provision, but provides carrots to investors instead. Senator Moynihan said that the fact it will be at the discretion of the planning authority to ringfence between 0-50% of homes for owner occupiers means the supply issue may go entirely unchanged.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The response from Government today will just push the investor funding towards providing Build To Rent where they can apply lower apartment standards, continuing to lock a generation into unaffordable rents. The response to supply issues isn’t a Government ramping up of housing provision but providing carrots to investors.

“The owner-occupier measures are totally laughable, leaving the situation unchanged as local authorities will have the option to ringfence zero homes for this cohort of people.

“This decision won’t stop bulk selling of apartments for older people who might want to downsize to an apartment. Apartment dwellers and single people also deserve the right to affordable housing and to own their own home, but this section of society is continuously ignored and failed by successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil housing policy.

“In my area, Hines have permission for 1400 units, none of which will be available to buy, and that won’t be impacted by today’s decision. People who want to live in a vibrant urban community will just be pushed out as estimated rents for these €1,350 for studio and €2,800 3 bed.

“The failure to implement a vacant homes tax is such a wasted opportunity. If you walk around most cities in the country, there are many empty apartment complexes with plastic still on the mattresses. It’s a shocking sight given the depth of our housing crisis that there is supply out there, but it is totally unaffordable and unattainable for those who need it most. The thousands of vacant homes across the country can be accessed quickly to help alleviate the housing crisis.

"CSO figures in 2016 said there were up to 200,000 vacant homes, but we need to get a clear picture of the actual figure of potential supply for people. We know from analysis from the Business Post that large build to rent complexes such as Clancey Quay and Capital Dock are not fully occupied. This is a scandal and could be stopped if there was political will to change things.

“It is an absolute scandal that while thousands of people have no proper home, many properties continue to lie vacant. Home ownership should be a legitimate aspiration for people. It should not be seen as an investment opportunity for huge funds that only care about their bottom line. Government has wasted yet another opportunity to change people’s lives for the better.

"Today’s announcement will bring zero change. It is a pathetic response, designed satisfy public anger but really only satisfying investors who will continue to charge out of control rents."