Thursday 24 October 2019

'Renting isn't for losers' - Chairman of the Housing Agency

Conor Skehan
Conor Skehan

Sarah Jane Murphy

'People are coming around to the idea that renting isn't for losers' and it remains a valid choice for many people, one of the Government's leading advisers to the property market has said.

Chairman of the Housing Agency Conor Skehan rents his home and says he has no intention of changing that.

Speaking about the worrying issues of soaring rents in Dublin, Mr Skehan said "quick fixes have badly damaged Ireland in the past. We are in the business of slow fixes."

The agency, which was set up in 2010 to advise the Government on policy for housing, is set to publish its first annual report today.

The report examines issues of supply and demand within the housing sector.

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Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Skehan stressed that the issue of affordability urgently needs to be addressed.

"We need to present people with the right housing options at the right times," he said.

While he praised the government for pledging to spend €3.4bn on social housing over the next four years, he urged them to keep the public updated as to progress.

"They need to actively let people know what's happening on a weekly basis," he said.

Mr Skehan said he would not buy a property again, adding: "I think people are coming around to the idea that renting isn't for losers, it's a valid choice for many people."

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He said that the job of the Housing Agency was to shout 'faster, faster' at the government and to ensure that projects are completed in a timely manner.

When asked why it is now considered cheaper to buy a house rather than to build one he explained that the answer was a matter of economics.

"The price of tenders fell but the price of labour and materials stayed flat, they didn't fall in parallel."

He said that his agency were determined to unearth why the cost of construction is cheaper in Northern Ireland compared with here.

Mr Skehan said that it is essential that additional resources are applied to monitoring building standards around the country.

"We need to be eternally vigilant. We must never forget the lessons of Priory Hall," he said.

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