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Harris wants taxation and planning related to the bulk buying of homes to be reviewed

Harris said he has heard of too many examples where there have been gaps in the system.


TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has said he wants a review carried out into the bulk buying of properties by private investors. 

At the launch of Fine Gael’s local and European election manifestos in Dublin today, Harris said “I do still hear too many examples as I go around the country” of bulk buying and “gaps” that need to be closed.

He told reporters he wants a new review to look at both taxation and planning measures that can further prevent the bulk buying of properties. 

The standard rates of stamp duty on residential property are 1% on values up to €1 million and 2% on values exceeding €1 million.

A higher 10% rate of duty comes in when someone acquires at least 10 properties during any 12-month period.

In May 2021 the government introduced a 10% stamp duty on the bulk purchase of family homes by investment funds. 

However, in July 2021, the Government passed a controversial amendment to allow funds to side-step the 10% stamp duty if they leaseback homes to the State for social housing.

While the government says the measure has proven to be a “significant disincentive”, critics such as Sinn Féin has said the measures do not go far enough. 

The government opposed a motion by Sinn Féin to increase stamp duty on the bulk purchase of homes by investment funds to at least 17% on the purchase. 

The motion in January came after it was reported by the Business Post that an investment fund had bought 46 out of 54 homes (85%) in a new housing estate in north Dublin.

Speaking about the measures currently in place, Harris said he believed that they were “helpful” and have been “important”. However, he said there are examples of gaps in the regulations that could be exploited.  

“I’m pleased with the number the measures the housing minister and the finance minister put in. I think they’ve been good. I think they’ve been effective,” he added.

“Is there is there scope to do more on tax and planning around bulk buying? I think there is,” he said.  

The Taoiseach said that the Housing Commission report does state that there is a role for private and institutional investment in housing. 

taoiseach-and-fine-gael-leader-simon-harris-centre-speaks-following-a-launch-event-for-his-partys-european-and-local-election-manifestos-in-dublin-picture-date-monday-may-27-2024 Taoiseach Simon Harris with local and European election candidates in Dublin today. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Local and European election manifestos 

The pledge to do more on the issue is just one of the promises in Fine Gael’s manifestos, which also states that specific targets for social and affordable homes for local authorities should be set. 

The manifesto also pledges that Fine Gael will back choice-based letting, whereby all local authorities will openly advertise social housing stock, allowing applicants to register an interest. 

The manifesto gives a particular focus to ‘over the shop’ spaces, stating that the party will work with local and national government to see what further financial supports can be provided to make converting over the shop spaces into residential homes more viable. 

Converting over the shop space is already a pledge in the government’s Housing for All plan, however, it has had limited success to date. 

The Fine Gael manifesto also includes pledges to develop an up-to-date nationwide audit of land, which will include a publicly available map and list of zoned, zoned and serviced and unzoned land for each local authority. 

One-off housing

Speaking at the manifesto launch in Dublin today, Harris said: 

“I’m very well aware that housing remains the defining societal issue of this moment. And I know it goes beyond a crisis. In fact, it can be a real source of intergenerational anxiety.”

He went on to state that it is “something we’re going to address once and for all”, stating that the public need a strong sense of security of housing. Harris said this will be provided by building on the progress the government has made on housing, and developing a long term plan, “which leaves boom and bust cycles in the past”.

“Young people and their parents need to know their future is here in Ireland. We are seeing the positive impact of housing policies,” he added. 

taoiseach-and-fine-gael-leader-simon-harris-speaks-following-a-launch-event-for-his-partys-european-and-local-election-manifestos-in-dublin-picture-date-monday-may-27-2024 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The manifesto document also notes the issue of one-off housing, stating that Fine Gael promises to take a “practical approach”, one which recognises the value of building thriving communities especially in rural Ireland.

In terms of renters, Fine Gael states that representatives, if elected, will ensure local authorities are monitoring compliance with specific planning permissions for certain private student housing developments, in light of recent criticism of 51-week leases, which the manifesto states not desirable for the vast majority of students.

The document is understood to also mention landlords, stating that the party wants to “work to keep landlords in the market”.

“For every renter, there has to be a landlord, and we will work to ensure landlords are encouraged to provide predictable. longer-term tenancies,” the manifesto states. 

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