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 Header Item Rental Sector (Continued)
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Data

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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  11 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy] In fact, 70% owned just one property. Furthermore, the Department of Finance report focuses exclusively on apartments for analysis and comparators, whereas the market consists of both apartments and houses.

Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act prescribes the legal procedures for the setting and review of rents. Section 19 prohibits the setting of a rent above the market rent. Essentially, the amount of the rent payable is agreed between the landlord and tenant, cognisant of local rents for similar dwellings. These provisions are kept under ongoing review by my Department.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry The Minister stated 70% of landlords own one or two properties. We know all that but the report refers to a new trend, namely, corporate landlords in urban areas - city-centre areas - becoming a real force and having the power to set rents. The report does not pull its punches in stating what these corporate landlords do. They supply apartments to the premium end of the market, and these are unsuitable for people on average incomes. The report states there is a risk that, should buy-to-rent investment continue at current growth rates, market forces will, over the longer term, create socio-economic polarisation in some urban areas. Reference is also made to the possibility of monopolistic or oligopolistic power in price setting. Having been warned, what measures does the Minister intend to take?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the follow-up question. He talked about a trend; it is not a trend. Some 1% of transactions in 2017 is not a trend. A proportion of 4.6% of the stock is not a trend. The Deputy said 70% of landlords own one or two properties and that everyone knows that. Everyone does not know that because the Deputy is wrong. Some 86% of landlords own one or two properties, while 70% own only one. When the Deputy attacks landlords, as he often does in this House, he should think about the people he is attacking, namely, 86% of our landlords who own only one or two properties, and the 70% who own only one. In most or many cases, they are accidental landlords who did not want or mean to become a landlord but who became one because of what happened in the financial crash or family circumstances. When the Deputy stands up here time and again attacking landlords, he is attacking people who find themselves in circumstances in which they do not want to be.

The Deputy spoke about the trend concerning institutional investors. We need more institutional investors because they increase the supply of apartments. We need tens of thousands of additional apartments, particularly in cities, if we are to meet the current housing challenge and also protect ourselves from other challenges, such as climate change, and also meet the need to promote proper spatial living and compact growth, as referred to in Project Ireland 2040.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry The Department of Finance has issued a warning, and it has done so in stark terms. It has raised the risk of the investors developing monopolistic or oligopolistic pricing power in rent setting. It refers to pricing people on both average and low incomes out of the market. I asked the Minister a simple question, concerning what he intends to do about this, and he gave me a lecture about statistics. What does he intend to do about it?

We are talking about Kennedy Wilson taking over Elysian Tower in Cork, vulture funds taking over Leeside Apartments in Cork, the increasing power of Irish Residential Properties REIT in the Dublin area and so on. Does the Minister intend to introduce more aggressive rent control measures? Does he intend to end the tax breaks for the big corporate landlords? Crucially, does he intend to put more money into social housing in the inner-city areas in addition to the suburbs and other areas around the country, which is what is needed?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy. I did not give him a lecture about statistics; I pointed out where he was wrong and how that lack of knowledge or ignorance is, unfortunately, leading to the statements he is making against landlords in this country, the vast majority of whom-----

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Answer the question.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy -----own only one property. It is not a case of big institutional landlords coming in and taking the approach the Deputy believes they are taking.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry What is he going to do about it?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy He is completely mischaracterising our landlord sector. It is doing a lot of damage for renters or others who might invest in becoming a landlord, thus making a rental property available to a young couple, a young person or a person coming to live and work in this country.

The report refers to 1% of transactions in 2017 involving institutional landlords and the stock proportion being 4.6%. It states this is low. A rate of 4.6% is low in any market but, of course, I will keep this under review. We are trying to encourage the building of tens of thousands more homes, including apartments. We are trying to find a better balance in our landlord market so we will not be exposed to people leaving that market, as at present. Institutional investors coming in and making a long-term play in providing apartments over periods of ten, 15, 20 and 25 years is in our interest because those properties will remain as places to rent. That is what we need. We are losing landlords from the market. It is better to have a balance between institutional landlords and the small landlord, who features at present. We do not have that balance yet and are nowhere near it. I will keep this under review until we get closer to the balance we need to see in order to have a properly functioning, mature rental sector.

Local Authority Housing Data

 24. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the details of local authority houses built in 2018 in each local authority. [8368/19]

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I wish to know the details of local authority houses built in 2018 in each local authority area. I raise this area specifically because it is the only one in which we have security of tenure. The housing assistance payment does not give tenants security of tenure. House-building and acquisitions will, as will the cost-rental model, I hope.

Last year, the Minister announced that 7,000 homes had been built. At a meeting in Cork, it transpired the number was much lower, amounting to only 700 approximately. This year, the Minister is saying the number will be 8,400. I would like the details on this if the Minister can provide them.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the question.

  Details on the 2018 social housing output against target, broken down by local authority area, have just been published on the statistics page of my Department's website, honouring the commitment I made last year to publish annual targets and full delivery details.   They should have been published this morning. I published the high-level targets last week. The reason for the delay was that we were waiting for the chairperson of a new task force we are establishing in Galway for housing delivery to confirm he or she would take on the role. The person confirmed only this morning. On confirmation, I was able to publish the detailed reports, in addition to the new measure we are taking in Galway city and county.

  Overall, a very strong performance was achieved by comparison with the national target for the year. Regarding new-build activity in 2018, some 4,251 additional social homes were delivered across the 31 local authority areas. This included delivery under a range of schemes, either led directly by local authorities or in partnership with approved housing bodies. Of the 4,251 new homes provided, 2,022 were delivered by local authorities, 1,388 were delivered by approved housing bodies and 841 came through Part V agreements. Overall, the new-build social housing delivery last year, while marginally below target, was up 85% on 2017, and was more than eight times higher than in 2015, the year before Rebuilding Ireland was introduced.

  My Department and I are committed to the accelerated delivery of all social housing projects and will continue to work with all local authorities and approved housing bodies to ensure that quality and value for money projects are delivered efficiently and effectively. This is evident from the significant increase in new-build social housing activity in 2018 and the further significant increase targeted for this year.

  I apologise for the Deputy not having the table in front of her. It should be published now. It shows each local authority area and each of the delivery streams in each local authority. It shows performance against the targets I set in January of last year in terms of local authority build, approved housing authority build, Part V developments, leasing, acquisition, and HAP and RAS. People can see the exact breakdown in respect of the 27,000 new households that were supported last year by the taxpayer.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I tabled the question because we had not seen those figures. The Minister is saying they were released this morning. The Minister's building target in Dublin city last year was 1,045 local authority houses. Has this number been built? The target for Galway city was 96 local authority houses. Considering that none was built the previous year, it would be interesting to know whether the target of 96 was reached.

I have a breakdown of all the local authority target build figures for 2018 so we will be able to compare these with the numbers actually built. I look forward to looking at and investigating the figures published today.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy It is a rather large table so it is difficult to elaborate on it. The Deputy asked what Dublin City Council provided over the course of 2018. There were 264 new builds by the local authority. There were 282 new builds in partnership with the housing bodies. There were 104 delivered through Part V. Therefore, the total new build figure was 650 across the three streams. There were 200 done in voids. More voids were done than that but we decided to cap the voids at 560, as per the Rebuilding Ireland plan. Three times as many voids were done across the local authority area. That brings the total local authority build in Dublin city to 850. In addition, 265 homes were acquired by the city council and 280 by housing bodies in the area, bringing the acquisition total to 545. If I am reading the table correctly, 61 homes were leased.

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