Cian O'Callaghan TD

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is failing to meet any of the targets on delivering affordable homes while house prices and rents are at record highs

A punitive 10% tax on vacancy and dereliction should be introduced and a levy imposed on investment funds, according to Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

Deputy O’Callaghan was commenting after the Social Democrats launched their alternative budget.

“Prolonged vacancy and dereliction, of residential homes, cannot be tolerated in the middle of a housing crisis. This is especially true when letting or refurbishing these homes is the cheapest, and most environmentally friendly, way to quickly add to the available housing stock.

“A vacant homes tax has long been promised by successive governments but it never materialised. It is now time to introduce one with reel teeth – and provide a genuine incentive for the owners of these homes to bring them back into use.

“The Social Democrats would immediately introduce a vacant homes tax calculated on an annual basis as 10% of the value of the property. This would be levied on any residential property that is vacant for more than 12 months. Fair exemptions would apply. A commensurate tax would apply to derelict properties.

“There is broad agreement that a windfall tax should be imposed on the obscene profits that energy companies are generating from the energy crisis. Similarly, we have a housing crisis in this country that is earning a small cohort of wealthy investors lavish profits.

“Aggressive tax avoidance by Irish Real Estate Funds (IREFS) saw their effective rate of tax fall from over 17% in 2020 to just 5.9% in 2021.

“The Social Democrats believe we now need a levy on investment funds to allow them to contribute to resolving a housing crisis that has earned them excessive profits for years.

“A levy on the profits of both IREFs and REITS should immediately be introduced to ensure that funds pay a minimum effective tax rate of at least 25%.

“In relation to providing support for renters, the Social Democrats would ban rent increases and provide a tax credit equivalent to a reduction of one month’s rent.

“When it comes to construction, an annual target of 10,000 social homes and 10,000 affordable and cost-rental homes would be set.

“It is clear that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien’s Housing For All plan is not working – he is failing to meet any of the targets on delivering affordable homes while house prices and rents are at record highs.

“The Social Democrats believe we need a new approach and that approach is set out in our alternative budget.”

September 22, 2022

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