Take three: solutions to the rental crisis
Throughout this series we will be seeking to identify solutions. We start with ideas around professionalisation, vacant land and social housing
Affordable/Social Housing: Hollyhill in Cork City. Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision
Professionalise the sector
The private rental sector is predominately made up of landlords who own just one or two properties. Attracting big investment in professionally managed residential property could moderate rent in several ways: institutional landlords are less vulnerable to changing mortgage-interest rates or personal financial problems, which can lead individual landlords to increase rents; ownership of an entire block or scheme offers economies of scale that should bring rents down; and institutional landlords are usually willing to fix rents for longer terms.
Levy vacant land now
Dublin city alone has 60 hectares of vacant land, spread over 280 sites, that could be used for housing. After several years of campaigning by the city council, the Government agreed to introduce a 3 per cent levy on property owners who hoard land that could be used productively. This could make living in the city a more viable option, with more accommodation bringing down rents – plus the bonus of getting rid of ugly derelict sights. Sadly, the measure has been long-fingered until 2019.
Have the State build social housing Fifteen
years ago responsibility for the construction of social housing was handed over from local authorities to property developers, those paragons of social justice. Under part V of the planning Act of 2000 a developer had to make 20 per cent of a housing estate available to local authorities for social or affordable housing. But they could give the local authority a cash equivalent or build the social housing on another site, perhaps not where the housing was needed.
The percentage is now down to 10 per cent, and the affordable-housing scheme has been scrapped, although developers do now have to provide the housing, not the cash. But the best way to provide social housing is for the State to build it.
More solutions on Monday, in News Agenda