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Taoiseach defends controversial changes to ‘cuckoo funds’ legislation

The measure is aimed at tackling so-called cuckoo funds buying up housing developments from first-time buyers.

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Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Taoiseach had defended a decision to continue to push through changes to legislation that will allow “cuckoo funds” that lease properties back to the state to avoid stamp duty.

Micheal Martin came under pressure to scrap the amendment to be tabled on Wednesday by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The amendment to the Finance Bill was passed by 74 votes to 59.

Mr Martin claimed the the amendment will mean 2,400 families can avail of social housing this year.

Under new planning rules, a 10% stamp duty for bulk purchases of 10 or more properties will apply.

The measure is aimed at tackling so-called cuckoo funds buying up housing developments from first-time buyers.

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However, the amendment will introduce a change to the legislation that will exempt vulture funds which lease the properties back to local authorities for social housing.

“The reason being is that for quite some time now leasing has been a feature, I have a view on that and we’re going to change that and we are in a transition phase,” Mr Martin said.

“There’s 2,400 social housing that can be provided to families through this leasing right now.

“We just can’t turn off the tap immediately.

“Yes, we can move to different models and transition to different models.”

This is about big bucks. This is about big funds muscling in with the assistance of your government into the property marketMary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald repeated her calls for the Government to scrap the amendment ahead of the vote during Leaders Questions, saying it facilitates funds attempting to avoid measures brought in to limit their role in the housing market.

Ms McDonald said: “Not alone do you allow them to snap up entire blocks of apartments and houses, which you incentivise, you actually give them a tax break for that behaviour.

“Don’t try to pretend that this will work in favour of people caught in the rental trap or young people or families looking to get their foot onto the property ladder, and to put a stable roof over their head.

“No it won’t, no it won’t at all. This is about big bucks.

“This is about big funds muscling in with the assistance of your government into the property market.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the leasing model will help house 2,400 families this year.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the leasing model will help house 2,400 families this year.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the leasing model will help house 2,400 families this year.

“Meanwhile, our citizens, our families, our communities are left with no chance no real chance to ever buy our own their own home.

“The most despicable part is that tonight you will sneakily move this through with the guillotine with virtually no debate.

“Same old same, same old Fianna Fail, same old Fine Gael, same old crisis and same suffering for people who live outside of yours and Leo Varadkar’s cosy little bubble.”

Mr Martin said that the approach taken by some local authorities to tackle homelessness has been assisted by the leasing model.

“My own view is that any model of leasing should be one where the State ends up owning the homes, so there will be a move,” he added.

The vote is expected to take place in the Dail later tonight.


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