Finance access and VAT are key barriers to housing supply in Ireland

Access to finance and input costs such as VAT are the key barriers to increasing the housing supply in Ireland, according to new research from chartered surveyors. In particular they say that the introduction of rent certainty measures have forced private landlords out of rental sector and that treating residential investors on par with commercial property investors is needed. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) is calling for a reduction of VAT to 9% for houses under €300,000 and the establishment of a finance agency to support house building. Over half of the 300 chartered surveyors who took part in the survey said the introduction of rent certainty measures by the government was one of the main reasons private landlords are exiting the sector. The other reasons cited were the indebtedness of private landlords and tax restrictions. SCSI president Claire Solon said that reducing VAT on affordable housing and establishing a Development Finance Agency with expertise in construction lending were measures the government should introduce in the upcoming Budget. She pointed out that the ESRI has estimated that Ireland needs to build 25,000 residential units per annum, with the bulk of them being required in the capital. However in the second quarter of 2016 planning was only granted for 2,590 units in Dublin, of which only 620 have commenced construction. ‘The VAT reduction for the hospitality sector has worked extremely well. We would like to see a similar reduction to 9% for a defined period focusing on houses under €300,000. We feel such a move, access to finance for builders and a Capital Gains Tax ‘holiday’ for a set period to free up development land, are three measures which would provide a much needed kick start to house building,’ she said. She explained that the return of boom era rents caused by the shortage of housing supply together with the slow gearing up of the construction sector meant Ireland might not be in a position to avail of any opportunities created by Brexit unless swift action was taken. ‘It is crucial for the Government to address the depletion in investor activity in the overall residential market. One solution would be to apply the principles of commercial property investment to residential development and investment. Specific measures which would help level the playing field would be to reinstate full mortgage interest relief and to remove USC and PRSI on rental income,’ she pointed out. The survey found that the most significant challenge facing provincial towns and villages in Ireland was the inadequate provision of broadband services. In its submission the SCSI calls on the Government to provide additional funding for the roll out of reliable, high speed broadband services in all rural and provincial areas, a doubling of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme Grant Scheme to €20 million and an overhaul of the regulations of the… Continue reading

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