Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Real Estate Investment Trusts
I have serious concerns of instances, recently reported, where investors are inappropriately purchasing entire completed houses estates, preventing their sale to families and first time buyers.
Institutional Investors, including REITS, are regulated by the Department of Finance. The issue of sale and of purchase of land or housing are matters for the Minister for Justice. I am working with my Government colleagues to bring forward comprehensive proposals to address this issue as a matter of urgency.
I would note that institutional investors occupy a relatively small share of the housing market which based on the last census in 2016 was more than 2 million houses and apartments. Industry estimates suggest that the total number of residential units under institutional ownership in Ireland was approximately 15,550 at the end of 2020, less than 1% of the total housing stock.
Historically, the private rented sector in Ireland has been largely made up of small-scale landlords, who will continue to provide the bulk of private rented accommodation. Data provided by the Residential Tenancies Board in November 2020 reports that the majority (over 70%) of landlords registered a single rental tenancy.
The presence of such institutional investors in the market helps to increase the supply of housing, particularly of urban apartments, through forward-funding of development. This is essential to reaching the National Planning Framework targets and to support more sustainable living generally. However the possibility of a trend of investment emerging where already or nearly completed traditional family home estates are purchased in bulk is deeply concerning and not in line with Government policy.
On Tuesday, 4 May last, I received Government approval for the Affordable Housing Bill 2021, which I will shortly be bringing before the Oireachtas. A key aspect of this Bill is the reform of Part V of the Planning and Development Act by increasing the existing 10% obligation for social housing in residential developments to a 20% obligation for social and affordable housing.
I will continue to prioritise the increase in the supply of homes and supports which enable first time buyers access their own home.