David Murphy headshot

Dublin, Ireland

31.01.2019

Thank you for joining me for your weekly edition of Housing Crisis Update.  For the podcast version, click here.

 

Master of None

Mary Carolan at The Irish Times reports that debt cases are to be removed from the Master of the High Court.

Master Edmund Honohan, who has been a consistent critic of various banks and funds, deals with up to 200 cases a week involving claims over debts.

Early last year Mr Honohan said he had said he had drawn up a bill to assist those facing repossession who he said were before his court on a daily basis.

He had also described advice given by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that people facing repossession should avail of the Abhaile service as a “sick joke”, saying it was “merely a voucher for €200 worth of legal advice before you go to the Circuit Court”.

Debt campaigner David Hall said the decision was a bad day for debtors and that Mr Honohan has been one of the few officials to speak the truth about banks’ behaviour.

 

Indirect provision

Noel Baker reports that the Reception and Integration Agency which houses the 6,355 people in Direct Provision in Ireland has had to access emergency bed spaces in hotels since last September, due to insufficient capacity. Further driving up the numbers were delays in taking decisions on applications for asylum, an increase in the number of people seeking asylum and the effect of the housing crisis.

The Irish Refugee Council have said there are 700 people in direct provision who have secured the right to stay in Ireland but can’t move on, because of a lack of available accommodation or the means to secure it. 

CEO Nick Henderson argued that the Government would have to secure more accommodation to address the shortfall caused by the crisis and “direct or indirect racism or discrimination" when those granted asylum try to access to private rentals.

 

Overcrowdsourcing

Aisling Kenny at RTÉ reports on figures obtained from Dublin City Council which show hundreds of people living in overcrowded social housing units across the capital.

In one case, eleven people were living in a two-bedroom home, while in three separate cases twelve people squeezed into three-bedroom homes.

In stark contrast, there are more than 800 three-bedroom homes and more than 100 four-bedroom homes across the city with just one person living in them.

Mike Allen of Focus Ireland said more options need to be created for people, pointing to a need for “single-bedroom units … in areas where traditionally there has only been three or four-bedroom units, so people can stay in the same area.”

Mick Gaslight-Bae

Michael Clifford reports on an intervention by Michael Healy-Rae in the debate over the Residential Tenancies Bill, which will provide some protections for tenants.

The TD who first became a landlord at the age of 19, said that landlords were being “criminalised” and “demonised” in the bill.

Clifford calls the language hysterical, saying there is a need to rebalance the rights of tenants, that housing is not an issue to be left to the whims of the market, pointing to clientelism in the planning process and the consequent effect on the price of land as the biggest obstacles to a solution to the housing crisis.

Clifford goes on to recommend implementation of the Kenny Report, which suggested that rezoned land should be valued at the agricultural rate, plus 25%.

The Kenny Report has been bounced around the courts and government departments since it was first presented to cabinet in 1973.

Housing
Crisis
Update 

Middle-class tax break

Laura Larkin at the Indo reports on tax breaks to encourage older homeowners to downsize. 

Former minister James Reilly will table a motion in the Seanad this week setting out a raft of new measures including ring-fenced funding, changes to inheritance tax and exemptions from property tax for so-called 'bespoke' housing built for older people.

It calls on the Department of Housing to publish a plan for housing for over-55s and to offer options including new funding models to provide for tailored housing for the elderly.

The motion, supported by all Fine Gael senators, calls on the Government to consider the tax breaks on property and probate to encourage downsizing.

 

Mystik Inflationary Spiral

Laura Larkin reports that the amount of money paid by the Government to private landlords has spiralled by more than €200m in four years.

Figures released to Fianna Fáil's housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien show that last year, more than €276m was paid to more than 40,000 households being accommodated in the private rented sector.

The Government plans to ramp up spending on HAP to €422m this year, with plans for almost 17,000 more households to be added to the scheme.

Mr O'Brien said Fine Gael was "pouring taxpayers' money into the private sector".

 

Duck switches get money

A new report by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) shows that house prices are expected to increase by 4% this year, while prices in the rental market are expected to rise by 5%.

Aine Myler, SCSI Director General, says a consistent increase in house prices over the past number of years has created unrealistic expectations, with demands for higher prices rank ahead of mortgage issues and buyers finding another property.

 

Brownfield stunning

There are "vast amounts" of land in Dublin available to tackle the housing crisis, a housing conference in the capital has heard.

Architect Mel Reynolds told the event in Dublin that half of all residential-zoned land in Dublin is State controlled, either being owned by a local authority or NAMA, that would be enough to provide 71,000 new homes.

The conference was organised by Raise the Roof, a coalition of housing groups and activists that are planning to hold a national rally later this year.  Raise the Roof launched their 2019 campaign at Dublin’s Mansion House last week for a legal right to housing, and promise “radical action” on Ireland’s housing crisis.

 

True Lies

Cormac McQuinn reports that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy insisted yesterday that homeless people aren't being turned away from shelters during the current freezing weather, but that some people refuse to go to shelters; even in "the worst type of weather imaginable".

The minister was responding to an intervention in the Dáil from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who raised claims that there were no beds available in Dublin the previous night.

Inner City Helping Homeless confirmed on Twitter that their teams had found 86 people on the streets of the capital the night before who had been unable to secure accommodation, even as the Minister and Dublin Regional Homeless Executive Eileen Gleeson insisted on RTÉ Radio that there was no shortage of beds.