The housing crisis and market ideology

Sir, – To my knowledge, no Minister in this or previous governments, who seem dead set on forcing those in search of housing into private rented accommodation, has indicated how on reaching retirement tenants will be in a position to continue to pay rent despite their income being reduced by at least 50 per cent.

I’m pretty sure that private landlords and “cuckoo funds” will not be reducing their rents to meet the new circumstances of tenants. Local authority tenants benefit from a differential rent scheme that’s based on current income.

Ministers, please advise. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – While there is justified outrage at investment companies bulk-buying homes in Ireland (Letters, May 7th), I am equally concerned about Nama bulk-selling property portfolios to investors. Under section 10 of the 2009 Nama Act, its primary commercial mandate "is to preserve and enhance the value of its loans and underlying security and to achieve best financial return to the State from their management and ultimate sale".

I live in an established development of about 80 properties in a residential area in Dublin. Nama held a portfolio of 19 of these properties, previously owned by the original developer. If these homes were offered for sale as individual units they would have been perfect for first-time buyers or downsizers. However, last year they were sold in bulk to an investment company registered in Cyprus. At the stroke of a pen those properties were removed from the Irish home ownership market and no doubt delivered a very poor return to the taxpayer as they were sold as a job lot. The Shareholding and Financial Advisory Division of the Department of Finance is responsible for the Minister’s interests in Nama. As the current housing shortage intensifies, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee should examine the practices of Nama and ensure that the housing stock it holds is sold to individual buyers. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Do we need a strong citizen-led Together for Yes effort for affordable housing? Asking for a friend, or two. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – Surely it is the job of Government, the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and his advisers to foresee the appetite of investment funds to take any advantage available to them in the Irish property market and put in the necessary controls to protect our first-time buyers. “We do not want institutional investors competing with first-time buyers”, the Taoiseach tells the Dáil. “ It is unacceptable” and “ will be examined”. Earlier Leo Varadkar stated, “It was never intended that they would enter that part of the market and take away properties that could be bought by first-time buyers.”

God help us if this is the level of foresight and planning available at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Now they are trying to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted while the investment funds are already planning their next attack. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I refer to the Tánaiste’s repeated claim that “putting ideology over practicality” won’t solve the housing crisis. For the umpteenth time, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil like to present themselves as somehow being ideology-free and their opponents of having fallen foul of a “problem of ideology”.

Of course, Mr Varadkar and indeed the Minister for Housing’s presentation of what is “practical” is deeply value-laden and overflowing with their own ideology. It only appears ideology-free because it is the prevailing ideology.

In the cold light of day, constant attacks on the ideology of their political opponents are not the defence of a political centre ground. They are merely being reactionary, and it acts as a clear sign to a growing number in dire need of housing solutions that the governing parties have absolutely nothing to offer.

No amount of “green jersey” talk can mask that there is always a battle of ideas ongoing. It is a matter of whose ideology prevails and to whose benefit. That should be the starting point for this discussion. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I see the Taoiseach is “aghast” at the activities of the cuckoo funds. He was a prominent crew member of the ship of fools that created the conditions for these birds of prey to flourish! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – While it looks like the penny has finally dropped for the Government to block investment funds from buying up entire housing estates, the fact that the Tánaiste stated that these entities “mostly invested in apartments” suggests that these funds are still being given a free pass of sorts .

I don’t think they will be disappearing any time soon! – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.