Minister can ringfence homes for first time buyers immediately

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
15 May 2021

Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said the Minister for Housing can resolve issue of investment funds devouring opportunities for first time home owners immediately through issuing guidelines to local authorities. Last week, the Labour Party offered the Minister an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is by reintroducing his bill to ringfence 30% of properties for first-time buyers word for word. Senator Moynihan said the mechanism to get first-time buyers into homes can be used immediately if the Minister is ready to decouple from investment funds interests.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Rather than risking the Minister’s own bill getting stuck or stymied through the legislative process, the Minister can direct local authorities to immediately update planning guidelines to restrict investment funds’ control of the market. Under Section 39 of the Planning Act, local authorities can restrict developments within their planning permission to be used by persons of a particular class or description. The Minister has an easily available outlet to instruct local authorities to stamp out investment funds at the start of the planning process.

“So for example, the Minister when issue guidelines to local authorities to say, 50% of developments that are granted permission must be for first time buyers or for owner occupiers. That then applies back to the planning permission. The powers are already there. All that’s missing is his will to change things for people.

“The Minister loves to pay lip service to young people, to single people, to first time buyers, yet nothing has been brought to cabinet to date to address the housing crisis. Now’s his opportunity to back this up with action. It seems to be Government policy to lock another generation into a rental economy. The Government needs to act, not just in suburban housing, but on ensuring a mix of housing in the system including apartment complexes within the inner city. People should have the right to buy and live within those communities.

“We’re all well used to seeing the competition between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to leak news about restrictions. Their silence on the biggest issue of our time is deafening.”

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