IPAV is delighted to have proposed and established a cross-party Oireachtas Committee on Property Market Reform which brings together a cross party selection of TDs and Senators with representatives of IPAV to help inform Oireachtas debates on property market reform as well as to assist in the development of new policy solutions. The Committee works collaboratively with relevant stakeholders, to include Ministers and their officials, so that industry opinion can be leveraged to help relieve some of the blockages in the system.
The Committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss key themes and advance policy objectives pertaining to property market such as market behaviours, the introduction of a Sellers’ Legal Pack for Property Buyers, recalibrating commercial units to ease market pressure, digitisation of the property services sector, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and public health restrictions on the property market.
Permission for the establishment of the Committee was secured from An Ceann Comhairle. Senator John McGahon is its appointed Chairperson, with Senator Aidan Davitt occupying the role of Vice-Chair.
Report of first meeting
The inaugural meeting of the Committee, on the 22nd of September last, was focused on providing Oireachtas members with an overview of the issues facing Ireland’s property market today. It featured presentations from IPAV members, speaking on behalf of the organisation, which included the CEO, Pat Davitt who articulated the general conditions of the market. Then IPAV President, Tom Crosse, gave a summary of the residential property landscape and CBRE Executive Director, Marie Hunt covered the key issues impacting the commercial property market.
Report of second meeting
The second meeting, on the 24th of November, was organised around two topics – investment in the private rental sector in Ireland and delays in connecting properties to an essential utility - water. The Committee benefited from two presentations on these matters. The first, from Donald MacDonald, Director at Hooke & MacDonald was entitled Funding for Residential Development and Private Rental Sector Viability in Ireland. A team from Irish Water subsequently gave their perspective on the issues leading to water connection problems at newly developed housing estates. They also provided an overview of their actions under Housing For All.
Parliamentary Questions raised
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage if he will temporarily suspend the limitations of usage on holiday homes in order to permit prospective tenants to reside in them in order to alleviate the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended (the Act), all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission.
In some cases, when the initial planning permission for a holiday home is sought, planning authorities have additionally specified by way of planning condition (such as an occupancy clause) that such holiday homes cannot be used for permanent residential purposes. It is considered that a change of use of a holiday home to a place of permanent residence would be a material change of use requiring planning permission. The carrying out of a material change of use from holiday home to a place of permanent residence without obtaining planning permission could be considered unauthorised development and subject to enforcement proceedings by the relevant planning authority under planning legislation.
If the owner of a holiday home wishes for the premises to be used as place of permanent residence, then they may lodge a planning application to the relevant planning authority for a change of use from holiday home to residential use. It is a matter for the planning authority to decide such applications on a case by case basis. When considering an application for planning permission for residential development or change of use, the planning authority is required to consider the local housing needs requirements policy as set out in the authority's Development Plan.
It should be noted that holiday homes are often located in more remote areas and/or may be on land which is specially zoned for such development in the Development Plan and/or Local Area Plan, e.g. a “resort” zoning, and which therefore may not be suitable for permanent residential development. Different design layouts and standards may also be applied to holiday homes than to permanent residential development and the planning authority’s policies on rural housing may also apply differently to holiday homes than to permanent residential development, all of which the planning authority would have to consider when making a decision on a change of use application. Consequently, a proposal to change a holiday home to permanent residential housing could be found to be contrary to the principles of proper planning and sustainable development of the area in question.
I have no plans to amend the existing provisions in this regard at this point in time.
To ask the Minister for Finance if he will introduce a two-tier stamp duty rate for land with a reduced rate applying to active farmers who work the land directly in order to increase output and production; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The current stamp duty rate for non-residential property, which includes agricultural land, is 7.5%.
Farming is first and foremost a business, and indeed section 655 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 states "For the purposes of the Tax Acts, farming shall be treated as the carrying on of a trade or, as the case may be, of part of a trade, and the profits or gains of farming shall be charged to tax under Case I of Schedule D." It is therefore appropriate for acquisitions of farmland to be subject, in the normal course of events, to the rate of stamp duty applicable to other non-residential property.
However, in respect of agricultural land, there are a range of generous and targeted reliefs from stamp duty, specific to that type of property, which remove in full or reduce the rate of stamp duty payable on the acquisition of farmland, currently available. These include the young trained farmer stamp duty relief, consanguinity relief and farm consolidation relief. These reliefs are kept under regular review by my department, and are renewed, updated and added to in line with Government policy and prevailing circumstances, when necessary.
I have no plans to introduce a special stamp duty rate for active farmers or for agricultural land.
To ask the Minister for Finance if he will introduce a tax incentivisation scheme that facilitates owners and purchasers of town centre commercial buildings convert them into residential properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Housing for All Strategy was developed in consultation with all relevant Government Departments, including my own. The measures set out in the strategy, together with the associated timeframes for delivery, represent the current actions for priority attention in order to increase the supply of residential property.
Having said this, the Deputy will be aware of the Living City Initiative (LCI). The LCI is specifically aimed at the regeneration of the historic inner cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. The scheme provides income or corporation tax relief for qualifying expenditure incurred in refurbishing/converting of qualifying buildings, including for residential purposes, which are located within pre-determined 'Special Regeneration Areas' (SRAs).
There are three types of relief available:
- Owner-occupier residential relief;
- Rented residential relief; and,
- Commercial/Retail relief.
In 2016 officials from my Department reviewed the measure in consultation with the relevant councils and the then Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. On foot of that review, a number of changes were brought forward in Budget 2017 in order to make the initiative more attractive and effective. The principal change extended the residential element of the scheme to landlords, who may now claim the relief by way of accelerated capital allowances for the conversion and refurbishment of property, which was built prior to 1915, where such property is to be used for residential purposes.
In relation to property-based reliefs more generally, taxation is only one of the policy levers available to the Government through which to boost overall housing supply. In line with my Department's Tax Expenditure Guidelines, consideration of whether a tax measure is the most appropriate policy tool for a given purpose is required. The presumption should be that non-tax measures should be considered before the use of a tax–based measure. The primary responsibility for direct expenditure based policy in this area lies with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Finally, Ireland’s past experience with tax incentives in this sector strongly suggests the need for a cautionary stance.