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Sunday 20 October 2019

Charlie Weston: 'Blame our financial calamity, blame compliant governments, blame the banks and their weak regulators'


(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Blame our financial calamity, blame compliant governments, blame the banks and their weak regulators.

You can blame them all for the fact that Ireland has been for sale for a number of years now - and vultures continue to pounce, buying up distressed mortgages and rental properties by the barrowload. The economy may be roaring again for some, but there are still rich pickings for the vultures.

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The numbers in long-term arrears remain high at 27,551. This is despite the property bubble bursting more than a decade ago.

And sales of mortgages and apartments to investment funds continue apace.

AIB is poised to sign off on a controversial €1bn sale of bad loans, including mortgages, to US fund Cerberus.

The US fund will pay just 30c in the euro for loans with a face value of €3bn.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Glenveagh Properties, which is backed by US fund Oaktree, is forward-selling 118 housing units to Ires Reit, Ireland's biggest private landlord.

No wonder first-time buyers are facing stiff competition when trying to buy homes.

Investment funds, housing associations, and State bodies now make up 22pc of purchases for newly built homes, up from 7pc in 2010.

What all of this means is that Ireland is well on its way to becoming a nation of renters.

Already around a third of the population rents homes, and that figure will only get higher as hundreds of new apartments across several schemes are being acquired by institutional investors.

The United Nations has condemned what it said was the "egregious" business practices of the giant private equity and investment firms buying up rental properties here and in five other countries. It said they were scooping up low-income and affordable homes, upgrading them, and substantially raising rents, forcing tenants out of their own homes.

Some of these funds enjoy extraordinarily low tax bills on rental incomes in this country.

The crash has meant Ireland continues to get sold cheaply. The landlords are now mostly foreign funds. We are beholden to others, again.

Irish Independent

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