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A tenants' group will protest outside the country's biggest private landlord today

Members of the Dublin Tenants’ Association will today picket outside the offices of Ires Reit.

File photo.
File photo.

A GRASSROOTS TENANT support group will hold a protest outside the head offices of Ireland’s largest private landlord this afternoon.

Members of the Dublin Tenants’ Association (DTA) – which advocates on behalf of tenants in the private rental market – will today picket outside the offices of Ires Reit ahead of the launch of the property giant’s latest development.

The Maple in Sandyford is being completed this month and will set a new benchmark for rents in south Dublin.

The DTA will today protest what it calls “escalating rents” and “the wider issue of government supported vulture fund activity in Dublin’s crisis hit housing market”.

Ires Reit (Irish Residential Properties Real Estate Investment Trust) currently owns about 2,400 properties in Ireland, making it the country’s largest private landlord apart from the State.

It has acquired at least half of its properties from Nama.

It was first listed on the Irish stock exchange in 2014 and is backed by Canadian property group Caperit.

Last year, the company made a €47 million profit, up 52% on the year before. Its net rental income was €30.5 million.

The company is a Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit), which means it is a publicly listed company and has as its function the ownership and management of property assets.

Reits has only been allowed to operate in Ireland by law since the 2013 Finance Act.

Among other requirements, regulations state that Reits are to be resident in Ireland, be incorporated under the Irish Companies Act and derive at least 75% of their income from property rents.

Issues

The DTA – which recently held an advocacy meeting for tenants in Dublin – has taken issue with rising rents in Dublin city, saying they are leading to entire communities being “priced out of the city”.

Ires Reit’s newest development – the 68-unit Maple in Sandyford - will have starting rents of €1,925 for a one-bedroom property, rising up to €2,750 for three-bedroom units.

This is due to set a new level of high rents in south Dublin, which has the highest property costs in the country.

“With a rental income of over €30 million in 2016, Irish Residential REIT is a vulture fund,” said Fionn Toland, spokesperson with DTA.

It has been buying many of its properties from Nama at fire sale prices and is benefiting massively from the mess our government has created in housing.

“We want to send a message that we will not sit back and see communities priced out of the city,” said spokesperson Mick Byrne.

PastedImage-85478 Source: Ires Reit

Earlier this year, Fora reported how analysts were noting the high rents were a way to get ahead of rent caps introduced by the government trying to deal with the city’s housing crisis.

Goodbody’s Colm Lauder told clients in a briefing note that asking prices “reflects the quality of product and service … but it is also an effort to overcome the 4%-per-annum rent review cap by starting at a rent that is very much at the top end of the market”.

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The government introduced the annual cap on rent rises for designated ‘rent pressure zones’ – which include all of Dublin, as well as Kildare, Cork and Galway –  in a bid to rein in runaway prices.

Research published by property website Daft.ie showed that the average rent across Dublin currently stood at €1,668 – up 13.9% during the year.

However the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in the Sandyford area was only €1,339 – nearly 44% below the starting prices at Ires’s Maple. The company’s average rent across its portfolio was €1,427 at the end of 2016.

Lauder noted that “high rents have been no deterrent to tenants” for Ires, “with a strong level of enquiries as early as November last year”.

When the (Maple) scheme launches it is expected to set a new benchmark for rents in the area.

The protest will be held outside the firm’s head office at Grand Canal Dock at 1pm today. Speakers will include Ires Reit tenants and Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace.

Following the protest, Ires Reit issued the following statement:

“I-Res REIT is not a vulture fund.  I-Res REIT is a long term investor and is very committed to the Irish market, and cannot be described as a vulture fund.

I-Res REIT is uniquely offering a high quality, professionally managed landlord service to its tenants.  The company’s objective is to provide a service that is second to none in the Irish market, as well as helping to address the housing supply problem in the market.

With reporting by Peter Bodkin, Editor, Fora

Fora: Ireland’s largest private landlord gets ahead of rent caps with its €2,750-per-month units

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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