The Government has been accused of doing the “bare minimum” to address wealthy investment funds bulk-buying homes in the country.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed the Government’s plans to address the issue were a “cop-out” and that so-called “cuckoo funds” had breathed “a sigh of relief” when the details were unveiled.
Ms McDonald told the Dáil the measure to increase stamp duty to 10 per cent on such purchases is “too low” and that the investment funds will “easily” be able to absorb the costs.
In response the Taoiseach accused Sinn Féin of exploiting the housing crisis for its own gain.
Cabinet ministers have agreed to implement a 10 per cent stamp duty for bulk purchases of 10 or more properties in an effort to tackle so-called cuckoo funds buying up housing developments from first-time buyers.
It will include exemptions for local authorities and approved housing bodies.
During Leaders’ Questions Ms McDonald said wealthy investment funds and developers “always come out on top with Fianna Fáil”.
“People have pretty low expectations of what your government would do last night given that you have a history of supporting these funds for years but you have defied even those low expectations,” she said.
“The truth is you have done the very bare minimum.”
"The Government say they are for home ownership yet everything they do locks people out of access to homes because of affordability, or into an endless cycle of extortionate rack-renting from international funds" – @MaryLouMcDonald #HousingCrisis #HomesNotInvestments pic.twitter.com/XncnURGyku
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) May 19, 2021
She said the measures will not improve the crisis as they do not include apartments.
“You’ve essentially waved the white flag of surrender and abandoned people in the city and the suburbs to the extortionate rents of these investor funds.
“Not just here in Dublin but in other places such as your own city as Cork.”
She added the plans would not make a “blind bit of difference” to the 80,000 planning permissions already under way because it will not be applied retrospectively.
She said: “The acid test of your proposal is this: Will it reduce the rip-off rents that people pay?
“The answer to that is no.
“Will it reduce house prices?
“The answer is no.
“Will it stop these cuckoo funds buying houses?
“The answer to that is no.”
“People expected their Government to step in and stop these funds in their tracks.
“Instead what they got was a cop-out.”
Micheal Martin described Ms McDonald’s comments as a typical Sinn Féin response.
“Oppose everything, prevaricate, delay and endeavour to exploit the housing crisis for it’s own political ends and electoral gain as opposed to coming up with real solutions that matter,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.
“Our fundamental concern is with young purchasers and people to enable them to be in a positive to buy houses at an affordable rate and the measures will be effective in that regard.
“Stamp duty going to 10 per cent is much more broader and effective than the UK situation, which Sinn Féin has cited, which of course applies (only) to houses valued over half a million pound sterling.
“That illustrates the lack of detail and the attempt to obfuscate.”
The Taoiseach added: “You’re not strong on the detail on this.
“You keep coming out with big figures on this and that but they are not really grounded in reality in terms of providing housing for people on the ground.”