Saturday 20 July 2019

Nation's biggest landlord denies inflating rents

Surprised: Ires Reit chief executive Margaret Sweeney. Picture: Naoise Culhane
Surprised: Ires Reit chief executive Margaret Sweeney. Picture: Naoise Culhane
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The boss of the largest rental company in the State has rejected claims by a United Nations report that her company is inflating rents.

Margaret Sweeney of Ires Reit said residents were not being forced out of their homes by high rents and said she was surprised at the comments about her company in a letter to the Government from the United Nations rapporteur on housing.

Big institutional rental companies, like Ires Reit (real estate investment trust), were accused by the UN special rapporteur on housing Leilani Farha of setting inflated market rents. "Private equity landlords, such as Ireland's largest landlord, Ires Reit, have openly discussed policies of introducing the highest rents possible in order to increase returns for shareholders," reported Ms Farha.

"The recent report by the Department of Finance notes that these large REIT investor landlords are playing a key role in setting inflated market rents in certain areas."

Ms Sweeney insisted tenants in Ires Reit properties tend not to move out.

The company is the State's biggest private landlord with more than 3,500 rental units.

Ms Sweeney said: "We have very low levels of turnover, 10pc might move."

Speaking at the launch of a new lobby group for institutional investors in real estate, Irish Institutional Property, she said her company had not been contacted by the UN special rapporteur.

She was surprised at the issues raised on Ires Reit. And she disputed claims in the UN letter to the Government that a person on the average wage now has to allocate 86.3pc of their income to rent.

"I have no idea where she [the rapporteur] got that or where the data is coming from," she said.

Ms Sweeney said the average rent was €1,600 a month in Ires Reit properties. Most were couple renting two-bed apartments, who tend to have two incomes.

Irish Independent

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