Housing plan: ‘This will not be forgotten by my generation at the ballot box’

Readers share their reaction to the Government’s latest plan to tackle housing crisis

File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

DAMIEN MCDAID

I really can’t see how this will solve anything in the short/medium term. The fact that apartments and sites that already have planning permission are exempt for the changes means that any potential benefit will most likely not be felt in the next 2-3 years.

Reit stock prices increased today, so investors don’t seem concerned by the news either. Feels like not a lot is actually being done, and that the status quo suits the politics of both Government parties.

E MURPHY

Galway City

This is just another example of successive governments’ obsession with the traditional family. Single people are not being provided for. These properties being safeguarded by the increase in stamp duty are only available to people on two salaries.

I have had a good job with a multinational for many years and I am a good saver, but 3.5 times my salary will still never be enough to buy any of the properties that this affects. There is no acknowledgment of the lived reality for many people in these proposals. We are expected to rent forever.

ROBERT FARRELL

I can’t help but feel the recent hysteria and subsequent “crackdown” on cuckoo funds buying up new housing estates is something of a red herring. There’s no doubt that it is a part of a wider problem in the housing market, but with all the attention it is receiving you’d swear it was the fundamental issue. It strikes me as an easy win for the Government, but ultimately will not address the issue. My partner and I are both working professionals with several degrees to boot. Traditionally, we would have been a shoe-in for a mortgage and would have been able to purchase a decent home in a nice area.

However, the reality is that we are currently priced out of the market in Dublin, where we both work. These Government measures won’t help us at all as we are keen to by an existing house, as opposed to a new build. We are not alone here, with a majority of first-time buyers in the market for existing homes, not new builds.

I believe that almost every Government incentive or support for first time buyers targets those seeking new builds (such as the Help to Buy scheme). Considering the consistently slow delivery of new builds, it strikes me as foolish to continue to incentivise their purchase. Not only that, but it is Government and the NPF strategy to support “compact growth’’ to stop urban sprawl.

New builds predominantly occur on greenfield sites at the edge of towns and cities, so to incentivise their development and purchase not only ignores prospective home owners like me, but also flies in the face of Government policy for compact growth and better planning/development.

DARREN GRAY

Dundalk

It is my firm view that the Government’s proposals do not go far enough, especially in terms of apartments. By way of background, I am 34-years-old and I’m a trainee solicitor working in Dublin. I am completely locked out of the rental/ property market and I’m currently living with my parents. This has had a significant impact on my confidence and mental health. I qualify as a solicitor in November and will be living with my parents for the foreseeable future. I have been saving for a mortgage since I started my training contract but I fear that this will be unattainable for many years.

As a single person, my pursuit is hampered even further, as there has been little regard for people in my situation. In terms of the most recent policies introduced, I see more of the same.

Successive governments have let my generation down by allowing the market to dictate housing policy. When I first learned about the Reits (which happened long before the media took an interest), it conjured memories of the Land League and absentee landlords.

I thought to myself, how could a republic that honours the memory of Parnell and Davitt allow this to happen? In terms of the tax treatment that these investment funds avail of, the government’s proposals do not go far enough.

I have heard the Tánaiste, Minster for Finance and a columnist in this paper state that they are subject to a withholding tax. The fact is that there are a number of exemptions to this tax which have not been mentioned, are are too numerous to outline in this forum. There are complex tax arrangements in place but it doesn’t suit the government to draw attention to this regime.

The Government , in my view, has failed to tackle this problem in any meaningful way. I watched the press conference yesterday and saw Paschal Donohoe justify the tax treatment that these funds receive by saying that they are providing supply in the rental market. Unfortunately, the rental units that they provide have inflated the market.

The units available are out of the price range for most people, especially if they also want to feed themselves. There have been reports that the Reits have been inflating the market during the Covid-19 pandemic, by leaving apartments vacant or offering a rent break. They have been doing this so that they can raise the rent again next year without being subject to the rent pressure zone restrictions.

The Government needs to recognise that large foreign investment funds have no regard to the public interest. Their masters are share holders, who expect a dividend. The Government should be the guardians of the public good and need to recognise that we as citizens are sovereign.

Will the Government housing plan help you?

The Government’s master is the citizens, but unfortunately this has been forgotten. Thankfully, this will not be forgotten by my generation at the ballot box.

AOIFE HEGARTY

Cork

It’s laughable that the Government believes the anger and despair will be relieved by these half measures. Their response is both predictable and grim.

I’m 29, partner is 33...after finally getting a deposit together we have been trying to buy for the past year.

Not because we are mad to own a home but because we simply cannot afford to rent. Houses are going for tens of thousands over the asking price and this is rural cork, not new builds in Dublin. The entire market is gone crazy and it’s by design. The government likes to focus on “first time buyers” or “young people” but the situation is hopeless for everyone who does not already have secure accommodation and isn’t a millionaire.

This is a social catastrophe and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are solely to blame. Reits, vultures, Nama etc are only doing what they are being encouraged to do by government policy. They can try and spin all they want and blame everyone else but if you are someone affected by this crisis it’s real life. It’s not a political argument, it defines your quality of life.

The Government have failed us and to add insult to injury they drone on about ideology when it is their rigid and unwavering support for market ideology that has robbed so many people of a secure future. Shame on them.

MARIO JANKOVIC-ROMANO

Dublin

I’m a second time buyer. I need to trade up from an apartment to a nice second hand house in a nice suburban area (preferably south Dublin). I wouldn’t mind a new house, but since help to buy doesn’t apply to second time buyers, that is not an option.

Nowadays it seems like everyone has the same idea to move out into the suburbs, and now there is a serious shorage of these types of properties on the market, both for sale and for rent.

Since this is delaying my decision to start a family, I will not have unlimited patience. If we cannot find a suitable house to live in, we will move out of the country and seek new jobs elsewhere. This is a serious implication for the attractiveness of Ireland and Dublin particularly as a good place to start a family.

Government policy is not concentrating enough on providing homes in the region of €450,000 - €600,000 that are good quality either second hand or new.

For me, the important bit is the density of the development but most new developments have higher density which is frustrating. There should be higher standards on associated facilities provided when developers want to build in higher density.

For example, putting a 1,000 apartment block somewhere would have to mean more public transport, more schools and creches, more roads, more parks and playgrounds, more sports courts, more gyms, more cafes and more restaurants. However, usually this doesn’t follow.

Few things the Government could address: 1. Renovation costs are extreme. This should be tackled - eg. by giving tax breaks, creating an environment where there are more builders, and generally concentrating on affordability of improving homes. This would make some terrible properties out there more attractive.

2. Concentrate more on the wellbeing of people living in Dublin. It is housing yes, but it is also the associated facilities that go with it. Just blindly building without consideration for the effects on the quality of living is not right. I would support high standards there, as long as costs can be cut somewhere else to make homes relatively more affordable.

3. At present, it is not possible to offset the rental income tax against the money that we would need to give to rent a different home. This is making us stuck in the apartment, instead of being able to at least rent a different home. I would just like to see government focus on people who are trading up at least for once. I feel neglected and don’t see a way out except to pay 20-30 per cent more than a couple of years ago for a house that is not ideal.

ROISIN NOLAN

Dublin

I don’t see how a 10 per cent stamp duty is going to help people in my position. If private companies have the capital to develop, they should pay more. On the other hand, perhaps taxing the tech conglomerates that have contributed to the gentrification of the city is a solution.

Sure, they create jobs, but for who? Dublin, my home city, has become inhospitable for most first time buyers. I am turning 30 this summer. I work part time. I am paying half my wages on rent.

We need more social housing that is Government owned. I think there is a huge lack of care towards individuals who do not come from generational wealth and have not had the opportunity to work through the generational trauma caused by oppression, theocracy and now, capitalism.

Perhaps if the Government considered a strategy to have more of an intersectional approach to all policies, programmes and investment, we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

DAN DALY

Dublin

It’s good to see the Government engaging with the housing issue seriously, but as a prospective first time buyer, the biggest issue in my mind is that these rules only apply to new planning applications. Housing developments take years to complete, so really this doesn’t address anything in the near term.

Excluding schemes currently in development is a huge mistake.

I also notice that the proposals changed from designating a percentage of new-builds from first time buyer to just owner occupiers. This also seems like a diluting of the measures.

CONOR BODEN

Greystones

We are a couple renting in Wicklow, good jobs, with our rent having increased constantly each of the last few years, which unfortunately feels like it has offset a lot of our salary increases. We are not overly keen to buy at the moment so are happy to rent. However, from reading the Government measures, I do not see any stated aim to force rents to climb down from their crazy highs (doubling in the last 10 years).

Rents need to be forced to climb down significantly as a stated aim in any policy intervention, yet this seems to be lacking. Why do they need to climb down so significantly?

For one, to pay a mortgage on the same apartment we are renting we would be saving around 30-40 per cent, which is ludicrous. It means that being an institutional landlord is free money for them, at a cost to us.

We’re entirely disillusioned with how the cost of renting needing to drop is not being targeted with extreme intervention like the way Covid was handled. As such, as a FG voter for the last 10 years, I’ll probably vote for Social Democrats or Sinn Féin as they at least make the right statements which resonate with ourselves.

CONOR

Dublin

My partner and I rent a one bedroom apartment in Dublin for €1,500 per month. Due to my partner being temporarily out of work we have become a one-income household and can just about manage rent and bills with little left over for saving. What little savings we can manage will be used to emigrate as we have given up on Ireland.

The housing situation facing so many hard working young people is utterly hopeless. The Government’s current housing plan will do nothing to alleviate the crisis that will drive those that can to emigrate and trap those that can’t in a crippling rental market.

In my opinion, we are in a situation where one could argue it is in the interests of the current government to maintain house/rent prices at high levels. I could be forgiven for assuming that a significant section of FF and FG’s voter base already own their own homes, are paying a mortgage or have the means to fund a deposit via parental gifts/significant savings.

As a result, I fear the reason we are not seeing any meaningful supply-side schemes is because if the government were to increase supply in any meaningful way house prices and rents would fall. This could potentially anger many of their existing voters who have become accustomed to their homes having hyper-inflated values. Until massive sections of FF and FG’s voter base is impacted by this crisis little to nothing will change.