Housing: neither the government nor opposition are serious about tackling vulture funds

Last night the Government succeeded in passing a last minute amendment to the Finance (Covid and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 that will allow institutional investors, otherwise “vulture funds”, to avoid paying stamp duty on housing units if they agree to lease them to local authorities.

This represents a huge concession to the investors who have been buying up swathes of housing and apartment developments, and makes a mockery of any commitment on the part of the state to tackle this issue.

As several independent TDs pointed out, it further militates against the chances of working people being able to buy their own home. The leasing of apartments to councils who will then place them on the social housing list also further reduces the possibility of many families being able to find a place to live as they do not qualify for social housing in the greater part.

The left parties have not only ignored this issue until recently, when they were happy to allow Bartra and others supply Dublin City Council with “social” and “affordable” housing, but have no alternative as to how their desire to have the state control most of the housing market is practicable.

The outrage being expressed over all this from some of the parties also contradicts their own actions in facilitating such investors when they had the power over such matters in Dublin City Council.

Gript and others have been highlighting the harm caused by allowing these funds to run riot on the Irish property scene for some time now. The fact is that the vast sums being diverted by wasteful local authorities and the central state through approved housing bodies and others is only benefitting the huge funds which have the finance to not only buy up so much housing, but to basically engage in usury in order to allow the state and local authorities to meet ideologically framed targets.

These targets are not being met anyway, whether Sinn Féin or Fine Gael or any of the parties now expressing outrage hold the reins on the county councils.

As Mattie McGrath TD said, the practical way to meet social housing demand is for the state to fund the local authorities to build – and to stop placing barriers to people building houses for their own families.

He also pointed to the vastly inflated state funds that are going towards the Housing Assistance Payment. This money could be far better spent in building homes rather than propping up landlords, who are increasingly the types of funds who will benefit from the stamp duty exemption.

Given the huge amounts of money being spent by the state on housing, it would surely make more sense to deploy it in directly building or acquiring housing rather than filtering it through all sorts of parasitical entities, and they don’t just include vulture funds, who benefit greatly from all of this while Irish people find it increasingly difficult to find a home.

All the hand wringing and staged histrionics form opposition parties who favour putting the needs of others before the Irish people, are no more going to provide a solution than the friends of the vulture funds, whose motivation in being here in the first place is to reap the whirlwind of disproportionate population growth and housing demand fuelled by mass immigration. The very thing that the left holds as beyond criticism.

 

 

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