Lifting the eviction ban was not an easy decision, but it was the right one
The big news this week is that the Government has decided not to extend the ban on evictions beyond the end of March. Instead, a range of new measures to address the housing crisis were announced, including phased protections that will remain in place for some renters until June. The decision not to extend the eviction ban was made after discussions between the Government party leaders and was based on advice from the Attorney General, who warned of the “significant risk” of a legal challenge if the ban was extended. While opposition politicians have criticised this decision, the Irish Property Owners’ Association has welcomed the decision, pointing out that it was crucial to stem the exodus of landlords from the property rental market. The IPOA also called for the Government to focus on protecting the existing rental supply by incentivising property owners to stay in the market. The Department of Finance has been hesitant to offer tax breaks to landlords to keep them in the rental market, insisting that any changes must be made in the context of October’s budget; however, RTE reported that the Government is considering exempting owners of second properties from capital gains tax (CGT) if they sell them to a tenant, a local authority or an approved housing body.
One of the key policy changes is the amendment to the First Home Scheme. Landlords selling a property will now be required to offer it to the tenant in situ first, based on an independent valuation. This gives tenants the option to buy their homes and protect their housing security.
The Government is also introducing a bespoke ‘cost rental’ model for tenants at risk of homelessness but who are not on social housing supports. The model will allow them to continue to rent their homes at existing or market rates. Approved housing bodies and local authorities will have the option to purchase the property and let it out to the existing tenant at cost rental rates.
The ‘purchase for tenant in situ’ policy is expected to account for 1,500 purchases this year, with the government underpinning the finance. This scheme will be accelerated and expanded to focus on people who have received notice to quit, HAP, and RAS tenants.
From the outside looking in, the UK Telegraph reported that ‘Ireland declares war on landlords – and puts its economic miracle at risk’, highlighting the State’s series of housing “own goals” and demonstrating how buy-to-let restrictions are damaging the country’s attractiveness to big tech.
In a positive move, the Taoiseach hit out at the prevailing false narrative, which he describes as the ‘demonisation’ of landlords, that essentially pits landlords against renters, explaining that this is exacerbating Ireland’s homelessness problems.
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