Donohoe defends role for international investors in housing market

Sinn Féin demands that Government ‘take immediate action’ to end tax advantages and exemptions given to corporate investors

Paschal Donohoe: “In meeting the needs for private sector there is a role for large investors and pensions funds inside a legal framework that is put in place by the Government.” Photograph: Getty Images

Paschal Donohoe: “In meeting the needs for private sector there is a role for large investors and pensions funds inside a legal framework that is put in place by the Government.” Photograph: Getty Images

 

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said there is a role for international investors in the housing market. He was speaking during a Dáil debate on the role of funds in buying up housing developments.

He insisted the Government has been playing a strong role in the provision of housing, and rejected claims the State had “outsourced” its responsibilities.

Mr Donohoe said he and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien were looking at measures to deal with the issue.

“I believe that, just as we look at the role of international investments in other parts of our economy”, the same could be done within a legal framework to involve international funds.

“In meeting the needs for private sector there is a role for large investors and pensions funds inside a legal framework that is put in place by the Government.”

Sinn Féin has demanded that the Government “take immediate action” to bring to an end the tax advantages and exemptions corporate investors receive to buy up housing developments.

As pressured increased on the Government over the role of investment funds buying up housing developments, Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said his party had called for these tax advantages to end “for years”.

In a private member’s motion on institutional investors in the residential property market, Mr Doherty said that “now the Government have been caught out they’re scrambling to give some appearance of action”.

He called for legislation to end the tax advantage and the imposition of a stamp duty surcharge on the purchase of homes by investment funds and urgent measures to “end their price gouging”.

However, Mr O’Brien hit out at Sinn Féin, accusing it of being “a party of slash and burn, not build and renew”.

Mr O’Brien claimed there was a “giant hole in the Sinn Féin doughnut-shaped housing policy, and that is the private sector”.

It was “a priority for our Government to address the issue of bulk-buying of properties from under the noses of first-time buyers”.

Mr O’Brien said the Government was the largest builder in the State and the largest player. “We are levelling the playing fields for first-time buyers.”

Planning permissions

Earlier the Taoiseach confirmed Mr O’Brien was “actively considering” directing local authorities to ensure that a large percentage of planning permissions granted for housing developments should go to owner/occupiers.

Micheál Martin confirmed that this was one of the options the Minister was looking at to deal with investment funds . He also said a specific planning court had been “mooted” in proposals for potential wider reform of the planning system.

Mr Martin also hit out at Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald over her party’s “serial objections” to significant housing developments, including 500 in Tallaght and 800 in Clondalkin, Dublin.

Ms McDonald said that in 2019 six out of 10 homes in Dublin were taken off the market and the vast majority sold to investment funds. In the last four weeks, she said, 400 houses were “snapped up” by these funds

She said the day of the developer and investment fund being “king” was over as she hit out again at the Government’s “sweetheart” tax deals for investment funds, which she said needed to be “reined in”.