Monday 11 December 2017

PayPal asking its staff for spare rooms in rental crisis

PayPal Ireland’s Louise Phelan warned that foreign direct investment may be under threat due to a lack of rental properties
PayPal Ireland’s Louise Phelan warned that foreign direct investment may be under threat due to a lack of rental properties
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

PayPal Ireland boss Louise Phelan has revealed that the massive multinational is asking its staff to offer rooms to new employees, who cannot find rental accommodation here.

PayPal, which employs some 2,400 people in Dublin and Dundalk, is now requesting that staff make spare rooms available because of the dire shortage of homes and apartments to rent.

Speaking at the Construction Industry Federation annual conference, Ms Phelan warned the situation was now "at crisis point" and was at the stage where Ireland would lose foreign direct investment and the crucial jobs that come with it.

Ms Phelan's comments came as property agents Savills warned that the rapid increase in Dublin's population was putting huge strain on the capital's housing and infrastructure.

The problem has become so acute that PayPal is forking out as much as €2,000 extra for new employees coming to Ireland to pay for a hotel when they arrive.

PayPal staff here overwhelmingly need a foreign language, making it necessary to bring in staff from outside Ireland.

"Our greatest challenge today is rental property," Ms Phelan said.

"Property prices are a consistent problem for my teammates trying to find somewhere to live. In terms of housing, I'm asking all teammates in Ballycoolin in Dublin and Dundalk to see will they rent rooms for teammates that I am bringing in from 26 countries because they can't get accommodation," she added.

In reply to a question from the floor, Ms Phelan said: "Today I am paying €2,000 upfront to people coming into Ireland to put them into hotels so I can get a chance to get them residential accommodation.

"It costs about €1,500 to hire an individual, but today it's costing me about €3,500 upfront to find a hotel for at least two to three weeks. It's crisis time for us and for bringing in foreign direct investment overall.

"The reality is that the IDA do an amazing job, but if you don't have the after-care service for people, FDI won't invest in you.

"It used to be about how many people I can hire. Now it's about how many people I can hire and get schools for their families and get into a home.

"So the whole mindset is changing and if we can't deliver the after-care, we can't bring jobs here. That's the reality."

Ms Phelan's comments highlight the lack of rental housing for people working here for a relatively short space of time.

While most of the issues around multinational companies here have been about a shortage of commercial property, Ms Phelan argued that was part of a much wider issue.

She mentioned a PayPal executive who had to move house within weeks of arriving from the US in order to find a school for their child.

Meanwhile, Savills warned that population growth was running two-and-a-half times faster than previously thought, with 32,000 extra people now living in the city compared with 2014. Savills chief economist John McCartney said: "That increase will impact significantly on essential services such as transport, schools and healthcare but most of all housing.

"We estimate that this acceleration will raise the annual building requirement from around 6,000 residential units per year to almost 13,000.

"We are only on course to deliver 2,800 units this year and the prospects for 2016 are not much better," he said.

The effect of population growth on Dublin was highlighted in a recent report from Savills and the ESRI. It showed a 1pc increase in population leads to a 1.25pc rise in the retail rents index within two years.

Longboat Quay scandal ‘has damaged construction industry’

Construction Industry Federation (CIF) chief Tom Parlon has condemned the problems at the Longboat Quay apartment block, and acknowledged it is damaging to an industry that was just beginning to get back on its feet.

"It does of course [damage the industry]," he said.

Mr Parlon, however, discounted the possibility of residents having to evacuate the property.

"I don’t think that will happen. Given the area that they are in, property there is much sought after and owners will want to protect the value of their property. I expect a compromise offer of some sort to be made by all the parties involved," Mr Parlon said.

The developer behind Longboat Quay, Bernard McNamara, is not a member of the CIF.

Longboat Quay was built when developers could "self-certify" that a premises complied with all regulations. That regime has been replaced by the strenuous Building Control Amendment Regulations.

Environment minister Alan Kelly is allowing exemptions to these regulations for one-off homes, but the CIF is opposing the move as it may lead to substandard building.

Also at the conference, Goodbody Stockbrokers chief economist Dermot O’Leary said the Central Bank rules on mortgage lending were "prudent", as were the higher building regulations. But he added that a reduction of VAT on new homes from 13.5pc to 9pc was the only viable way to reduce the cost of building houses.

Irish Independent

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