Nearly 50,000 homes receive planning with restriction around bulk buying

Darragh O’Brien hails success of measures aimed at stopping funds or companies bulk-buying housing units

Fostertown Place, a 28-home housing estate in Swords. Concerns were raised after it emerged Ryanair had bought 25 of the homes. Photograph: Sam Boal/

Almost 50,000 homes have received planning permission over the last three years with conditions restricting funds or companies from bulk-buying individual units, according to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

Planning rules were changed in 2021 to restrict the bulk purchase of homes amid a public outcry over the purchase of multiple units in housing estates in Maynooth and Lucan by investment funds.

Over the last three years, 49,828 houses and duplexes received planning permission with conditions restricting bulk buying or multiple sales to a single purchaser “and ring-fencing them for owner-occupiers”, Mr O’Brien said.

In total, almost 20,000 of the homes were recorded as ring-fenced in the last year alone, he said.


The planning changes were part of a series of Government measures aimed at prohibiting the bulk buying of homes and boosting individual home ownership. Other measures included a 10 per cent stamp duty levy on the cumulative purchase of 10 or more residential houses in a 12-month period.

“In May 2021, I introduced changes to the planning system to protect traditional family homes from commercial institutional investors bulk purchasing them in competition with the owner-occupier market,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This data confirms that the interventions have worked and have helped level the playing field for traditional home buyers, including first-time buyers, while at the same time continuing to facilitate investment in the construction of new homes, particularly those high-density apartments which would not otherwise be built.

“In addition to limiting bulk purchases, we are also increasing the supply of housing as evidenced by the latest figures, showing record new home starts and completions,” Mr O’Brien said, insisting the Government was committed to supporting home ownership.

Ryanair recently bought up most of the homes in a new estate close to Dublin Airport, which the airline plans to rent to staff.

While Mr O’Brien said he was frustrated by the airline’s move, he noted that the development in Swords predated changes in the planning laws that would have prevented the purchase.

A recent report by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that while close to 80 per cent of people over the age of 40 in the Republic owned their home, barely a third of those younger than 40 were homeowners. The report noted that the gap between young and old was the second-highest out of 15 European countries included in the research.

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Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times