Call to review foreign purchases of property

There have been calls for Ireland to assess the level of non-residents or foreign firms buying homes here after New Zealand agreed to a radical ban on foreigners purchasing properties there.

However, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s office said such laws here would be unconstitutional and go against EU law.

Opposition TDs, though, want a curb on large funds buying up homes here.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien wants a review done: “Kiwis can prove foreign investors there are driving up house prices.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien

We can’t be sure here. This needs to be done, to check if it is a factor. Fundamentally, the problems are a lack of supply. Such a ban would also be contrary to EU 27 rules. We should review the situation and see if there is an impact. For rental properties, large corporations, such as Google, are buying their own properties.

Facing a housing affordability crisis, New Zealand has passed the laws aimed at stopping wealthy foreign buyers and firms, particularly from China, outbidding home-seekers there.

Rents in Ireland have reached a new high as reported this week. Homelessness is at almost 10,000, only a handful of affordable homes were built last year by local authorities and home prices in the Dublin region are out of reach for many young and working buyers.

Despite this, large funds and firms are buying up entire apartment and housing complexes, ahead of ordinary purchasers in the city.

British property firm Round Hill is the latest so-called REIT (real estate investment trust) to target Dublin.

It will invest up to €1bn in build-to-rents and student accommodation.

The Government, though, is opposed to even examining whether Ireland should follow New Zealand to stop foreign firms buying properties here.

Such a move would go against “general property rights” and be unconstitutional by banning how people could sell homes, said a spokesman for the housing minister.

The situation in New Zealand is unique and is mainly targetted at foreign Chinese buyers there,” he added.

“This would be unenforceable in the EU. We haven’t considered it, we are not currently considering it and it is not on the horizon.”

Sinn Fein also ruled out such a move saying: “The decision by New Zealand’s parliament to ban foreigners from buying existing homes in the country, is not something that Sinn Féin would be in favour of replicating here in a bid to combat the housing affordability crisis.”

However, People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett, while also opposing a ban on foreign buyers, said there should be restrictions on large funds buying properties, including Irish firms.

“I would welcome measures to block speculators buying up property and driving up prices. While a lot are foreign asset vulture funds and asset managers, I’d be cautious about saying it is a foreign problem.

“There are lots of homegrown vultures here as well. We shouldn’t simple scapegoat foreigners. Government policy is allowing the entire market to be manipulated.”

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