July 4, 2021
Government must withdraw Finance Bill amendment exempting long-term leases from stamp duty increase – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin has called on the government to withdraw its proposed amendment exempting long term leases from stamp duty increase. 

The call comes after it was revealed that the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien requested an amendment to the Finance Bill seeking to exempt institutional investors, bulk-buying houses and duplexes and then leasing them to local authorities for social housing, from the increased 10% stamp duty charge. 

Teachta Ó Broin said: 

“In May, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil that local authorities should not be engaging in long-term leases with institutional investors who were bulk purchasing houses and duplexes. 

“He said ‘let that message go out loud and clear from government. No local authority should be on the other side of this, engaging in a long lease with these institutional investors’.

“Yet last Friday, Minister of State Ossian Smyth, speaking to a number of amendments to the Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, increasing stamp duty on institutional investors bulk-purchasing houses and duplexes, told the Dáil that ‘on the advice of the Minister for Housing Local Government and Heritage, to introduce an amendment on committee stage to facilitate an exemption from the 10 per cent stamp duty charge in circumstances where houses are bought by investors for leasing to local authorities’. 

“Here we have the Taoiseach saying that councils should not be engaged in long-term leases with institutional investors, while his Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is actively encouraging such leases. 

“Long-term leasing is bad for the taxpayer, for the social housing tenants, and for struggling home-buyers. They are expensive. They do not provide lifetime security of tenure. 

“And they result in aspiring home buyers being priced out of the market by institutional investors availing of sweetheart tax breaks gifted by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. 

“If the Taoiseach really means what he said in the Dáil last May, he will insist that Darragh O’Brien’s amendment to the Finance Bill, exempting investors engaged in long term leasing from the higher rate of stamp duty, is withdrawn. 

“Failure to do this will simply incentivise the forward purchase of large volumes of houses and duplexes by institutional investors only then to be leased back to the state at sky high prices. 

“Home buyers, social housing tenants and the taxpayer will suffer while the institutional investors will be laughing all the way to the bank.”

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