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Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:

“Time and again we have seen that the market cannot be relied upon to deliver housing people can afford.

“Long-term leasing effectively means that the State is paying a developer’s mortgage on a property by entering into a 20-25-year arrangement, with four-yearly rent reviews built in and no asset to show at the end. After the term of the lease, the property is refurbished by the council and handed back to the developer. This means that local authority tenants have no security or protections after the term of the lease has expired and can just be thrown out of their homes.

“Part V, which is now the dominant means of delivery of social housing, is increasingly – and in some cases exclusively – being delivered through long-term leasing instead of properties being sold to the State at cost price. The Minister needs to clarify if local authorities are obliged to accept the option of leasing on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis from developers.

“It seems that this arrangement is being pushed as the preferred option by the Minister, even though it makes no financial sense and could not be described as a social good. It is clear that the real solution lies in the scaling up of direct build of social housing by the State but I see no evidence on the ground that this is happening.

“There will be thousands of these leases in place before taxpayers realise they are being taken for complete idiots. Leasing is the most expensive and unsatisfactory way of delivering social housing and is typical of the type of Fianna Fáil policymaking that only benefits developers.

“We need to directly contract builders to build on publicly controlled land to deliver social and affordable homes for both purchase and rent in socially mixed communities, and on sites that are developed to a masterplan with prices set in advance by the State using a Housing Delivery Agency.”

March 24, 2021

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