Housing demand exists, there is no need to pay favourites

The property conversation this week has been dominated by the fallout from the most recent Housing for All reporting that showed more than 20,000 landlords have left the rental market over the past five years. According to Department of Housing officials, there were 320,000 landlords in 2016, with the most recent figures showing just over 298,000 currently. Despite the ongoing exodus of private landlords, the Government has no plans to encourage small landlords to remain or for new landlords to enter the Irish market. The Department is hoping that 7,800 homes belonging to elderly people who are availing of the Fair Deal scheme will come on to the rental market. This ‘hoping’ can hardly be described as a robust housing delivery strategy. Yet, the Department of Housing stance – as given to the Irish Independent – is that landlords leave the market “for a variety of reasons” and that “new sources of supply” will fill the gap. That dismissive response to such a critical issue is quite telling. So too is the confirmation that trade shows are being organised to promote the Irish residential market to institutional investors. While we welcome broadly the communication of policies and State encouragement of sustainable investment in Ireland’s property market, there is a need for many different types and scales of solution providers and it is ridiculously short-sighted to choose a favourite or to pit one type of investor against the other when all are needed. 

In terms of new homes delivery under the Housing for All plan, nearly 40,000 planning permissions were granted in the 12 months to the end of September 2021 and there were over 30,000 commencements, which is the highest annual level seen since 2008.

Also, we have spoken here previously about the broken public consultation and judicial review process in Ireland that has delayed or killed off much-needed housing and other proposed developments over the past few years. Well, it looks like someone has had enough and is not willing to wait for much-promised, but long overdue, change to the system. Earlier this week, the Currency news site reported that a property investor is suing three Dublin 14 residents and seeking damages against said residents for “wrongfully delaying” a €160 million student accommodation scheme in Goatstown. Apparently the three residents, one of whom is the head of development for a co-living company, brought a judicial review application to the High Court to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála to allow the almost 700-bed development. It will be interesting to watch this case play out for a number of reasons, not least of all, it might introduce a level of personal accountability and shared risk that has been critically missing from judicial review proceedings in the past. And the outcome has the potential to be game-changing for Irish development. Let’s wait and see…

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Managing Director 
Lotus Investment Group