Landlords enriched by government propping up private rent sector

Market Solutions to housing crisis have failed – programme of affordable state provided accommodation to buy or rent is needed

Responding to the figures made available today showing the extent to which the landlord class continue to be enriched by rent supplement payments, amounting to €400 million in 2012, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin Paul Murphy said:

That 20 landlords alone received over €5 million from the Department of Social Protection in 2012 while thousands of properties, some essentially already in state hands via NAMA, remain vacant encapsulates the chaos of the government’s ‘market solutions’ to the housing crisis.

It is estimated that the need for housing increases by 20,000 per year. In the context of the crisis and the difficulty in obtaining mortgage approval there has been a boom in the rental sector. The minority among those with a housing need in Dublin who are in a position to purchase find themselves confronted with a new price bubble driven by weak supply in some parts of the city and county.

It is government policy to allow the conditions to develop for a generalised rise in house prices to 2003 levels. They and the property industry positively glow at every indication of a rise in Dublin prices, crudely linking it to signs of an overall economic recovery.

I and the Socialist Party have no confidence that the market can resolve the housing crisis. Instead of continuing with the policy of enriching landlords, NAMA owned properties should be immediately released to local authorities and be made available to those in need for sale or rent at affordable prices.

I fully accept that not all landlords in receipt of rental subsidies fall into the category of the big players. Many unfortunate individuals have had to vacate a home they bought in the boom because of a job loss and are renting it out in order to cover some of the mortgage. The necessary response to this scenario is a write down of bubble era mortgages to an affordable price.

Over the coming months the radical response needed to Dublin’s housing crisis will be a major part of my European election campaign in the city. I am confident that what we advocate will win widespread support and put the government parties under pressure to acknowledge the crisis and deal with it.”