Reader's Blog: Landlords targeted as institutions go tax-free

Eoghan Murphy. Picture: James Connolly.

“It is important to recognise the positive effects that institutional investment can have,” according to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who fails to see any downside to international corporations buying swathes of property in the country. Institutional investors spent more than €1.1bn on a record 2,923 Irish homes last year.

Meanwhile, rents and the number of people living in rented accommodation rise. Is there a connection?

What is happening here is similar to what has happened in major cities where the indigenous people were priced out.

Mr Murphy told the Dáil tenants are afforded greater security and have their homes managed more professionally by an institutional landlord. Where is the evidence for this? Has he forgotten that these major corporations are being given every possible financial incentive so that, essentially, they pay no tax to our exchequer? They can afford to pay more for properties, driving prices up for everyone else.

Meanwhile, the Government demonises other property owners who carry on the legitimate business of letting their premises, enforcing a penal taxation regime and a regulation system. I remember the 1990s when people were encouraged to provide for their pensions. Many people took out mortgages to buy property so as not to be a burden on the State. Mr Murphy and his Government later stood by as the banks seized these properties, treating their owners as criminals, even when the rents could not be paid by tenants who had lost jobs.

“Historically, the private rental sector has been largely made up of small-scale landlords who will continue to provide private rental accommodation,” according to Mr Murphy. Unlikely, I’d say. The property owners are already voting with their feet, despite the usual 33% capital gains tax on the sale price of rental properties.

And we’ve seen nothing yet it seems. The latest proposed legislation sets out to enhance the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to act against property owners. People need to be made aware of the draconian nature of the upcoming ‘Residential Tenancies (Amendment ) No.2 Bill, 2018. If passed, it will be even more difficult to evict rogue tenants.

Far more serious than any of this, however, is the proposal to extend to the RTB, powers to investigate and impose criminal convictions on property owners, even where no complaint is made against them. Please take note… criminal convictions in a parallel court system for property owners who seek only to carry on their legitimate business … and for what crimes exactly? I urge people to vehemently oppose this legislation.

During the worst housing crisis this country has ever seen, our leaders,

instead of bringing stakeholders together are playing power games. Fiddling while Rome burns?

Maureen Moran, The Lough, Cork

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