Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.26 19 May 2021


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The Housing Minister has defended the Government's new plans aimed at preventing bulk-buying of houses - describing them as a "very radical step forward".

Darragh O'Brien says investors are still needed in the housing market, and anyone who suggests otherwise is being "disingenuous".

However, he said he's confident the measures will be a "disincentive" to funds buying up large numbers of properties and that the measures "go further than many people expected".

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The Dáil is expected to approve the new measures tonight.

Under the new legislation, investors will face a 10% stamp duty charge when buying 10 or more residential homes – up from the current rate of 1%.

Opposition parties have sharply criticised the move, saying the increase from 1% to 10% won't deter funds from buying multiple properties.

The Government has been under pressure to act after it emerged in recent weeks that the bulk of houses in a new estate in Maynooth, Co Kildare had been purchased by investment funds.

On The Hard Shoulder, Minister O'Brien said they want to ensure there's a level-playing field for first-time buyers and owner-occupiers.

O'Brien defends new housing measures: 'We can’t allow a situation like Maynooth occur again'

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He said: "I am confident, but we’re going to have to keep it under review to be honest with you.

“We can’t allow a situation like Maynooth occur again, so we have to be able to put a disincentive in place.

“This isn’t a brand new phenomenon… in Donabate around two years ago, the second phase of an estate - which was for family homes and starter homes - was sold to a fund.”

He said work was already underway to act on bulk buying, but the revelations around Maynooth "focused minds".

He argued the bulk buying wasn't a widespread issue, but there have been a few "specific incidents" which the Government wanted to respond to.

Planning changes

As well as the stamp duty changes, local authorities will be instructed to prohibit bulk buying of houses and duplexes when granting permission for any future developments.

Minister O'Brien admitted it won’t impact existing permissions, but the Government needed to weigh up the ongoing need to increase supply.

He said: “We still do need investment. Those who say we don’t need investment in our housing market are being disingenuous, frankly. But we need it in the right places.

“For new planning applications going forward from today - and this is very important that people understand this - the purchase of more than one house in a development will not be permitted.

"That is a very radical step forward.”

Apartments are exempt from the new changes, but the minister claimed apartment buyers aren't being overlooked.

He said more apartments are needed, but there's an issue around funding so external investment is necessary.

However, he expects further measures around apartments will be agreed in the coming weeks - saying he wants families and individuals to be able to own apartments.

Main image: Darragh O'Brien. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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