‘Wasteful and costly’ long-term social housing leases criticised

‘Wasteful And Costly’ Long-Term Social Housing Leases Criticised
The State has taken out almost 9,000 long-term social home leasing deals at a cost of more than €3.24 billion. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Government’s policy of providing social housing by leasing properties from the private sector has been criticised as “wasteful and costly” by the opposition.

The Business Post reported at the weekend that the State has taken out almost 9,000 such long-term leasing deals at a cost of more than €3.24 billion over the 25 years the deals are due to run.


Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns criticised the Government for the measure, while Taoiseach Simon Harris said the State’s long-term leasing to provide social housing would end by December 2025, as promised by Government in 2021.

During Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday, Ms McDonald said figures indicated that the number of leases increased last year compared to the previous year.

She said the long term social housing leases are subject to “upward-only” rent reviews every three years and are not limited by the 2 per cent cap under Rent Pressure Zones.

“A very, very sweet deal for the property funds,” Ms McDonald told the Dáil.


“This is a scandalous, short-sighted, negligent waste of taxpayers’ money by Government. Instead of investing to boost State-owned social housing stock, you’re paying out huge sums of taxpayers’ money to ‘big shot’ property funds for homes the state won’t own – the incompetence here is off the charts.

“Far from phasing out this wasteful policy, you’ve turbocharged it with bumper profits for property funds. And this puts up in lights that Fine Gael is never ever going to solve the whole housing crisis. The simple truth is you’re not capable of it.”

In response, Mr Harris defended the Government’s track record on housing and said that long-term social housing leasing was “tapering down” from “1,300 units in 2022 to just under 200 units in 2025”.

He also said that not all operational leased units “have a remaining term of 25 years”.


“Let me be clear, the phasing out of long-term leasing is well under way with 3,500 social homes to be delivered through long-term leasing from 2022 to the end of 2025.

“So let me assure you today, deputy, that the Government’s policy to end long-term leasing under Housing for All has not changed and long-term leasing will be ended by December 31st, 2025.

“But leasing does enable a portion of social housing need to be addressed in the short run.”

Ms Cairns said “the State pays through the nose and is left with nothing except the bill” at the end of the lease.


“Quite literally, if you wanted to design a worse way to provide social housing you couldn’t. Every single aspect of the deal is bad for the State and investment funds are loving it,” she said.

“The sweetheart deals are cash cows for them. There’s literally no downside. They lock in sky-high rents, include upward only rent reviews, and ensure they retain ownership of the asset at the end.”

Mr Harris again defended the Government’s record on housing, stating: “Never in your lifetime or my lifetime were more social homes provided than were provided last year.

“Because housing policy can’t just be about ideology and emergency, it has to be about using every single provision.


“When it comes to housing, we take a pragmatic view, unlike some of you who rule this out and rule that out, we will use every tool at our disposal to maximize the availability of housing supply for our citizens.”

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