Housing Minister backs plan to give tax breaks to landlords who sign longer leases

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is supportive of tax breaks for landlords to incentivise longer leases.

Fianna Fáil is to include the proposal to incentivise landlords with a tax rebate for signing a five or 10-year lease in its Budget negotiations, which began yesterday.

As revealed by the Irish Independent, the party is expected to include the scheme in its suite of measures on housing, expected to make up a central part of its Budget demands.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar promised to examine the idea but warned there will be no “quick fix” on housing. “Fianna Fáil made a suggestion in relation to incentivising landlords. We’ll certainly examine that. What I don’t see is any party coming forward with a quick fix, because there isn’t one. We need to be honest with the public about that,” he said.

Mr Murphy said he had already suggested an incentive scheme to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. He and Cabinet colleague Katherine Zappone, the Children’s Minister, wrote to Mr Donohoe on the issue before the Dáil recess.

Details of how the scheme might work have not yet been determined, or how much of a rebate would be on offer and for what leases.

In a veiled swipe, Mr Murphy said that ahead of the Budget there will be people “competing to take ownership” of good ideas. Speaking on Newstalk, Mr Murphy said the Government “absolutely needs to find a way whereby we have longer- term leases”. The country need to develop a mature rental sector, which we have never had before, he said.

Mr Murphy acknowledged there must be a balance of rights for owners who must retain the right to sell a property or hand it over to a family member who may need it.

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy has threatened to strip local authorities of their housing responsibilities if they do not meet strict new homelessness targets.

He wrote to the chief executives of every Dublin city and county council warning he will invoke legal powers that allow him to intervene in local authority housing policy if they do not house more homeless families. In the letter, Mr Murphy said he would “intervene directly” using powers under the Housing Act if the councils did not act more urgently on the homelessness crisis.

The unprecedented move would see senior officials from the Department of Housing seconded to local authorities to oversee homelessness policy. The development would be hugely embarrassing for local authority chief executives and would be a major escalation in the Government’s response to the housing crisis.

The minister set out new targets for each local authority, including housing more rough sleepers and delivering extra accommodation for homeless families. The chief executives have to set out their plans by Wednesday and deliver on the objectives by end of the year.

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