Sunday 25 September 2016

Property firesale will escalate housing crisis

Published 23/04/2016 | 02:30

'The acquiescence of the State in facilitating the firesale of thousands of houses and apartments, some for as little as €6,000 each, will in time be recognised as a monumental blunder'
'The acquiescence of the State in facilitating the firesale of thousands of houses and apartments, some for as little as €6,000 each, will in time be recognised as a monumental blunder'

Ireland and its relationship to property is conclusive proof that history repeats itself first as tragedy, second as farce.

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In the wake of the Famine in 1849, the Encumbered Estates' Court came into being, enabling the mass sale of Irish estates whose owners were swamped with debt.

At that time, the country was an impoverished colony of Britain. Today, we have our independence and there can be no excuses, such as blaming absentee landlords or peers stupefied by port and louche living, for our plight.

The acquiescence of the State in facilitating the firesale of thousands of houses and apartments, some for as little as €6,000 each, will in time be recognised as a monumental blunder.

It is staggering to think that this has happened since 2010; after the government had resolved to solve the escalating housing crisis, and committed to maximising delivery of units "owned by Nama or its debtors" for social housing.

Today we reveal how property funds have been able to swoop on residential units worth almost €2bn.

Has there ever been a more glaring demonstration of a Government presiding over a policy so fundamentally at odds with its own ends?

The consequences of all of this have undoubtedly contributed to the unprecedented housing and homeless crises.

It has also contributed to families all over the country being left unable to afford to rent, let alone buy, a home. In allowing these funds to hoover up property, rather than stepping in and procuring it for the State, we have snuffed out the dream of property ownership for generations.

There is an overwhelming need for a coherent plan on housing. By failing to encourage and support the possibility of home ownership, we have built a systemic problem into the future. Nama's recent commitments on the development of residential property will smack to many of a belated bolting of the stable door, after the horse has been sold for a song.

It all adds up to much too little, far too late.

Irish Independent

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