Housing for All plan must fix the broken housing system
- Vacant property tax must be robust enough to ensure effectiveness
- Renters cannot be forgotten
- Policy should not be based on the premise that people should couple up
The Government’s Housing for All plan must have targeted action points to fix the dysfunctional housing market that has let too many people down, said Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan. In anticipation of the publication of the document, Senator Moynihan said while there is no easy solution to Ireland’s housing crisis, there is no doubt that the only solution is for the State to be at the forefront of actions to deliver affordable housing for all. Welcoming reports that a vacant property tax may be introduced, Senator Moynihan said this must be enough to ensure there are no empty homes left in Ireland.
Senator Moynihan said:
“The Housing for All plan is Fianna Fáil’s opportunity to break the cycle of the five wasted years when it comes to a housing strategy in this country. The average sale price for a new home in Dublin in 2020 was €396,000 – that is way outside the reach of most workers, all single people, and it represents an impossible burden to save for and pay a mortgage on. The sums just don’t add up for people. Meaningful action is needed to ensure homes are within people’s reach.
“Having a safe, secure home is a human right, it’s the benchmark of a decent society and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have failed to deliver this since 2016. The broken market needs heavy State intervention, including taxes and levies, to strongly motivate those with available land to develop housing on it now and to eliminate profiteering.
“Reports that the plan may contain a vacant property tax is a welcome step in the right direction. These currently empty homes could be used to immediately alleviate some of the pressure on the housing system. Instead of being boarded up or unused, these houses could be someone’s home. I hope that the Government takes action that other regions such as Amsterdam have taken in ensuring that units are brought back to use.
“We cannot follow the experience of the vacant sites levy in having so many exemptions it barely works. If you walk around any city, town or village in this country, you will see countless numbers of empty homes lying dormant, entirely unused. No wonder so many people are angry at the level of vacant properties when so many people are without a home and are priced out of the housing and rental market.
“Renters and single people must not be forgotten by the Minister in this plan either. Renters are already struggling with the high cost of living and can often barely afford to make ends meet, yet alone save for a deposit to buy their own home. Renters are not transient and they deserve key protections and rights so that they can make their house their home. That’s why I launched a Renters’ Rights Bill with Deputy Ivana Bacik this summer which would give power back to renters and provide them with basic rights in terms of security of tenure, rents and deposits and the quality of rental accommodation in this country.
“Renters in Ireland remain unable to do the most basic things, like drying their clothes on the balcony or owning a pet. Through introducing model tenancy agreements which have been successful in many other jurisdictions, this Bill would ensure that renters are able to hang their clothes out to dry in gardens and on balconies. Housing for All must ensure these basic protections for renters.
“The Housing for All plan also offers the Minister to prove that housing policy is not based on the assumption that people should aspire to couple up. More than 400,000 people in Ireland live alone, yet every time the Government talk about housing it’s based on joint incomes. No housing system, or indeed economy, should be trapping people into seeing marriage or relationships as economic leverage to buy a home. Being single isn’t just a stage of life that people should want to get out of. Home ownership is a legitimate aspiration for all people – single or married, young or old – and we need to put in place supports for collective approaches to home ownership for low and middle income earners.
“After years of private market failure, we must provide for a new model to tackle the housing crisis and it is time we took radical action to provide our people with homes. The supply crisis can only be sustainably resolved through long-term State action that delivers affordable housing once and for all. We look forward to the publication of the Government’s plan in this regard.”