by David Gardiner, Workers’ Party representative for Palmerstown-Fonthill

As the housing crisis continues, vulture landlords will soon own at least 832 homes across Palmerstown, Clondalkin and Lucan.

The biggest offender (that we know of) is Carysfort Capital, which owns 229 homes in Shackleton Park, as well 262 in St. Edmunds 160. The IRES REIT group owns 91 houses at Coldcut Park, while the McGrath Group is behind 250 units on the old Vincent Byrne site in Palmerstown, which is also set to be bought up by the vultures.

Why does this matter? Vulture landlords are one of the main reasons for the housing crisis. Supported by government legislation, they buy up housing supply in bulk and charge extortionate amounts of rent.

While tens of thousands are homeless or can’t afford to move out of their parents’ house, these vulture landlords will gladly leave homes empty until they get someone to pay the sky-high prices that they’ve set. Being the massive corporate bodies that they are, they can afford to wait around and wait for what they see as merely an investment to pay off. Many working people who need a home, on the other hand, are not afforded the luxury of time.

The Workers’ Party believes that housing shouldn’t be built for the sole purpose of making a profit for corporate bodies. This kind of housing is often built without any attention being paid to the need for facilities and amenities. It only benefits developers and landlords at the expense of renters and communities.

Instead, the Workers’ Party believes that public housing is the solution. We want to see universally-accessible public housing, which anyone can avail of and pay actually affordable rent, the exact figure of which would be relative to their income. This would mean security of tenure for all, building mixed-income communities for generations to come.

Rather than just being a pipe dream, the Workers’ Party has put serious time into the technical side of how exactly this would work. For example, such a system would require either the local council or the state to set up a new State Housing Corporation. This State Housing Corporation could borrow off-books against the assets it owns, such as public land, to finance housing construction.

This system is based on housing provision in cities like Vienna in Austria, where 60% of citizens live in mixed-income public housing and which have the highest quality of life in Europe. It is a simple and public alternative to the chaos of the private housing market, to rack-renting by private landlords and to greedy developers. It is a solution that works for those who cannot afford to buy, those who struggle to afford their rent and all those who struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

In order to build such a system of public housing, the Workers’ Party believes that the following would be necessary:

  • Large scale construction of mixed-income public housing through a state construction company and direct labour schemes, based on our Solidarity Housing model of public housing for all.
  • Allocating the necessary resources to local authorities for an immediate and substantial programme of public housing construction.
  • Establishing housing as a basic and essential human right. Without access to suitable housing the supposed rights to family life, to healthcare, and to education are empty.
  • Ensuring that planning should provide the transport links, childcare facilities, local amenities, and stability that allows for vibrant and inclusive communities.
  • Guaranteeing that all housing built must reach the highest international building standards.
  • Ending the privatisation of public housing.
  • Supporting local, non-profit, cooperative, self-build, own-use housing initiatives.
  • Ending all property related tax incentives as these have proven to be economically disastrous for this country.

To ensure fair rent, protection against exorbitant rent increases, security of tenure, and more in the private sector, the Workers’ Party wants to see:

  • Introduction of legislation to properly control rents. This would apply not only to rent increases within tenancies but also between tenancies and set out clear guidelines by which rent levels can be established. This must be accompanied by legislation to ensure security of tenure for tenants whose properties are being sold.
  • End the subsidy to private landlords by the phasing out of rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment and its replacement by local authority owned housing
  • Implement a comprehensive package of measures to ensure that tenants in private rented accommodation have fair rents, security of tenure, decent standards and conditions.
  • Immediately legally implement deposit protection by ensuring that all deposits are held by an independent body like the PTRB in an independent and self-financing fund.

To find out more about public housing as a solution to the housing crisis, visit the housing policy section of our website, where you can read a number of our policy documents.

David Gardiner is your Workers’ Party representative in Palmerstown-Fonthill. Follow him on Facebook for updates from the local area.