Row looms in Dáil over housing being sold by vulture funds

Proposed PRTB buy-to-let code of conduct faces opposition from financial institutions

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath is to  publish legislation dealing with mortgage holders, tenants and buy-to-let properties and SMEs whose loans are sold on. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath is to publish legislation dealing with mortgage holders, tenants and buy-to-let properties and SMEs whose loans are sold on. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A row is looming in the Dáil next week on the housing crisis and protections for tenants whose rental accommodation is being sold by vulture funds seeking vacant possession.

Sinn Féin’s Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin Ó Broin has called for legislation to be introduced to enhance protections for tenants, including an extended notice to quit of up to a year.

Separately, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath will publish legislation dealing with mortgage holders, tenants and buy-to-let properties and SMEs whose loans are sold on.

Homelessness

Government officials met last week to consider the homelessness problem. A spokesman for the Department of the Taoiseach said yesterday that “these issues are being examined in detail, and the group will report back to the Taoiseach and Ministers on them”.

Labour Senator Aideen Hayden has called for vacant possession not to be enforced until a house is actually sold.

She said an estimated 47,000 properties are now owned by “non-bank entities” or vulture funds.

Meanwhile, a proposed code of conduct by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) on buy-to-let properties faces opposition from financial institutions and the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI).

According to the Department of Finance, financial institutions and the BPFI object to the PRTB’s draft code of conduct on buy-to-let properties and the rights of tenants, including where the properties face repossession or are in receivership.

A department spokesman pointed to the owner’s constitutional right to property and the question of balance with tenants’ rights.

He said financial institutions and the federation “have signalled difficulties with the draft code of practice developed by the board in terms of the complex regulatory and legislative relationships between lender, receiver and landlord”.

Arrangements

The board is continuing to work on “developing appropriate arrangements in relation to buy-to-let properties”, the spokesman said.

Work on the code also included proper notifications to tenants and requirements around notice periods and essential repairs.

Ms Hayden, chairwoman of housing charity Threshold, said tenants should be allowed to stay in their homes until a property was actually sold, stressing that constitutional property rights were limited by the common good.

Numerous repossessed properties where the tenant had to vacate remained empty, and she said currently receivers had been appointed to 8,000 buy-to-let properties.

She suggested the Government could negotiate with vulture funds to buy back properties en bloc, with a “reasonable profit” to the funds, who had bought them for a knockdown price in the first place.