Charity calls for greater tenancy protections against international 'Vulture Funds'

Focus Ireland says Banks are planning to sell off billions-of-euro worth of distressed mortgages that are in arrears

Charity calls for greater tenancy protections against international 'Vulture Funds'

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Homeless services charity, Focus Ireland has called for proper legislation to prevent Irish tenants from eviction when properties are bought up by ‘vulture funds.’

The charity said Irish banks are preparing to sell off “many millions of Euros-worth” of Irish property to international buyers.

Reports in May suggested that Ulster Bank is lining up the sale of €875m worth of distressed buy-to-let and home mortgages while AIB are also rumoured to be considering the sale of part of a €1.9 Billion portfolio of buy-to-let mortgages in serious arrears.

Central Bank figures show that 47,000 Irish homes are currently owned by vulture funds.

Focus Ireland Advocacy Manage, Roughan Mac Namara said stronger protection measures for renters are essential in order to avoid a flood of evictions coming down the tracks.

"We want protection for all tenants so that sale of the property they are renting doesn’t mean they lose their home or have the rent hiked up,” he said.

“This right already exists in many other countries, so why is it not in place here in Ireland?”

Cabinet recently approved Housing Minister Simon Coveney’s plans to introduce certain protections for people whose homes are sold off to Vulture funds.

The change will mean that if an apartment block of more than 20 homes is sold, then new owners will not be able to evict tenants all in one go or hike up the rent. 

Mr Mac Namara said the steps do not go far enough:

Mr Mac Namara also called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to provide assurances that loopholes which have reportedly been employed by funds to avoid paying Irish tax on billions-of-euro worth of assets are "firmly shut." 

“On one hand we have the Minister claiming he has now shut off tax loops holes for vultures through his Section 110 Amendment but on the other we have reports that leading accounting and legal firms have told their vulture fund clients how to bypass the Section 110 amendment,” he said.

Focus Ireland’s “Vulture Shock” petition calling for legislation to protect Irish homes from international investment funds has been signed by over 10,000 people.

The charity plans to deliver the petition to the Government tomorrow to mark World Homelessness Day.