The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has described Government measures to tackle the activities of investment funds that bulk-buy new-build housing as limited, minimalist and unlikely to be effective.
Responding to this week’s proposals aimed at protecting first-time buyers from ‘cuckoo funds,’ ICTU general secretary Patricia King said they were “unlikely to significantly deter or limit” such activities and “will do nothing” to ensure delivery of affordable housing for all.
Purchases of more than ten houses will now attract stamp duty of 10% under plans agreed by Government on Tuesday.
But the measure does not apply to the bulk purchase of apartments. ICTU says the speculative funds will remain largely free to bulk-buy apartments for rent at unaffordable prices.
"The overriding concern of the Government appears to lie with ensuring the continued presence of such funds, even if this means the continued and ongoing dysfunction of our housing market,” said Ms King.
ICTU called for major state intervention to deliver decent, affordable homes, cost rental and public housing at scale to ensure housing for all. It said the absence of affordable housing has pushed local authorities into expensive, long-term leasing deals in order to provide social housing.
"Our housing market will become less lucrative for speculative interests only when we make it more affordable and secure for people. We can do this by delivering on genuinely affordable homes to buy or rent, ensuring greater security for tenants by ending 'no-fault evictions' and introducing a new, legal right to housing," said Ms King.
The Government measures are to be brought forward in two stages. Initially, the bulk purchases of houses will be banned via a circular to be issued to local authorities in the coming days. It’s understood that all houses will have to be made available for individual purchase for a period of two years, after which they can then be bulk purchased.
Then, an amendment of the affordable housing bill expected to see up to 50% of houses being be reserved for owner occupiers. This encompasses a broader range of people that first time buyers, the term initially used in the bill.
It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact the union HERE.