What you see depends on where you stand

Perspective is a funny thing, unique to each of us. It depends on where we are and where we have come from. It’s a bit like viewing or experiencing installation art; what you see depends on where you stand and if you want to see the whole ‘event’ from another perspective, you must move your position..

Through our daily work here, the Lotus team are in the fortunate position of engaging with a broad range of players across the built environment. This has given us the opportunity to view industry issues from a number of different perspectives, which is helpful when it comes to finding solutions.

The ongoing political backlash to the government’s Housing for All strategy appears to be lacking in perspective or taking a very one-dimensional approach to the plan, measuring likely delivery success in terms of winners and losers, with the industry always winning and the consumer always losing. This is so far from reality that it is nonsense, not to mention unhelpful at a time when we need strong leadership, robust opposition and a credible, achievable housing strategy for the country.   

Earlier this week The Irish Times ran an article urging ‘Shift needed on “serious power imbalance” between landlords, tenants’. The article quoted Labour TD Ivana Bacik, speaking during debate on her Residential Tenancies (Tenants’ Rights) Bill to address what she perceives as “the existing power imbalance between landlords and renters”. She is calling for renting to become a long-term, viable and sustainable option for people in Ireland. Critically, we do need to provide for longer-term and even lifetime rental in Ireland. And it is widely accepted that our current regime is not sustainable for tenants. However, it is increasingly unsustainable for private landlords too. The latter is evidenced by the continued exodus from the housing market. Many of the private residential investors leaving the market right now would attribute this to the “serious power imbalance” between landlords and tenants, though perhaps not in the way the TD meant it. 

It is not popular to point out that there needs to be a balance between the regulation of rents and income for landlords, as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar found out this week, when he stated “one person’s rent is another person’s income, it might be their pension, it might be how they pay their mortgage”. This is a very real observation and ought not to cause a political outcry.  The notion of Housing for All is to have a diverse housing offering across the public and private sector, that serves the needs of all. It is a fallacy that previous housing policies “favoured landlords and emphasised the use of rental properties as investments rather than as homes”

Housing is not installation art. It cannot only be successful from one vantage point, it has to work for all. 

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Managing Director 
Lotus Investment Group