Readers Views: Look to the vultures not small scale investors for the cause of housing crisis

Many moderate and reasonable people were no doubt surprised to read that an estate agent was fined on grounds of discrimination for having advised a single mum with a toddler, who was on a HAP housing scheme, that the owner of the property ‘would prefer to rent to a couple’.

Undoubtedly, this case can be looked at from different perspectives. One wonders why the owner of the property issued such an instruction. It may have been prompted by the behaviour of previous Hap tenants who thrashed and destroyed a house or apartment.

In such instances the landlord/landlady finds that he or she have no redress whatsoever apart from a prolonged legal course of action under the jurisdiction of the Private Residential Tenancy Board.

On the one hand, it could be argued that the estate agent erred insofar as he or she should have met the woman and used their intuitive skills and business experience to assess her suitability and records. It is very often the case that recipients of the HAP scheme prove to be excellent tenants.

On the other hand, the estate agent was obviously intent on safeguarding the interests of the landlord/landlady who had employed and instructed him.

This ruling indicates that owners or estate agents have no rights whatsoever in terms of choosing tenants, which is unreasonable and dangerous, as it suggests that we are living in a type of socialists state.

It would be more fitting if our minister for housing put separate legislation in place to deal effectively with greedy developers and vulture fund personnel who are not only imposing unreasonably high rentals on vulnerable tenants, but also evicting others by selling off large blocks of property

These predators display little compassion or ethical standards and are distorting the market for personal gain. One also wonders if Mr. Coveney should have alerted his colleague Mr. Noonan to the fact that profits from vulture fund sales were exempt from scrutiny or taxation until relatively recent times.

These ministers are well remunerated for their services and should have kept their finger on the property-pulse. Surely, no one needs to be reminded of what happened during the disastrous Celtic tiger era.

Many small-type landlords/landladies have made sacrifices to put their small business portfolios, of one or two houses, together in order to enhance their pensions and enjoy their golden years in some semblance of comfort.

These people rarely impose unsustainable rent-reviews on well-behaved, trustworthy tenants due to the inconvenience associated with re-letting. Such private enterprises could actually be categorized as SME’s as owners and relatives usually re-decorate the properties themselves before putting them back on the market.

Instead, such landlord/landladies are subjected to an ever-increasing plethora of new draconian rules and regulation devised by the minister and now supported by recent judicial findings.

It could also be helpful if Mr. Coveney desisted from citing, all too frequently, a series of totally untrue figures regarding a resurgence of house building, as highlighted by Brian Carey in his recent article titled’ Lies Damned Lies and Unbuilt Apartments’.

Carey drew on statistical data to prove that very little is actually being done to alleviate the present housing crisis. He contends that the current flurry of building activity in the Dublin area illustrates an asymmetrical ratio of construction between commercial and residential properties.

The award winning journalist Michael Clifford has also focused on the poor numerical skills of Messrs Varadkar and Coveney. In his recent article titled ‘Making the Numbers Count for Nothing’ Clifford states that they both ‘need a few lessons in how to do their sums’.

Such incompetence is unacceptable and also damages the integrity of these ambitious men. When challenging the figures put forward by the minister for housing, as part of his ‘grand rebuilding Ireland plan’, Michael Clifford maintains that they are ‘entirely off the mark’.

This nonsensical situation should be re-addressed forthwith if we wish to accommodate the existing homeless while also providing accommodation for business employees who may want to re-locate in Ireland in the wake of Brexit.

The current crisis needs to be addressed in an honest, effective manner.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the minister and the judiciary should stop interfering with small–type landlords/landladies lest they depart from the market completely. These properties are owned by private citizens. On has to ask oneself what will Mr Coveney’s next strategy be? Compulsory acquisition perhaps if somebody else make a discriminatory complaint!

Margaret Humphreys,

Ballynaraha,

Blarney

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