Foreclose On The Right Wing

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From top: Alan Kelly and Joan Burton; Anne Marie McNally

While Labour rent their ideals to the highest bidder the problem of homelessness can never be solved.

Anne-Marie McNally writes:

The past few days have seen raging debates about the current humanitarian crisis playing out across Europe and how Ireland might play its part in alleviating the suffering of those people.

A lot of that debate has been framed in the context of our own problems here at home and cries of ‘what about our own’. One of the key areas for concern in that regard surrounds the contentious issue of homelessness and the wider topic of housing.

How long have we been talking about housing issues in this country? From planning scandals to Celtic tiger bubbles to spiralling rents to supply shortages, and eventually to a homelessness crisis that worsens every day.

But here’s the crux – homelessness can be solved. Let’s get real about this. Yes, there is a section of the homeless population who have extremely complex issues requiring far more integrated services than a simple housing solution but increasingly we are seeing individuals and families being pushed into homelessness for no reason other than poor strategy and consistent failures on behalf of Government to implement basic preventative measures.

Over the past 12 months or so we’ve come through the usual Government spectrum of dealing with an issue (i) deny it exists (ii) claim it’s being blown out of proportion by hysterical people (iii) admit there’s an issue but claim to have a handle on it (iv) issue a raft of important sounding announcements to solve said problem and (v) vociferously deny the reality that those announcements have made zero impact on the problem and in fact the problem has worsened. Repeat process.

In December 2014, in response to the tragic death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie, Minister Alan Kelly and his junior Minister Paudie Coffey announced a 20 point plan to tackle homelessness.

To date – the majority of those 20 proposals languish somewhere between non-existent or half completed. The majority of them were knee-jerk type responses aimed at taking the immediate pressure off and to be perfectly honest, most were aimed at those homeless individuals with more complex, multi-agency needs.

Nowhere was there any sign of a policy to address the critical role that the unrealistic rent caps play in forcing families out of rented accommodation.

Joan Burton held firm on the ‘negotiate with the landlord’ line – which might be grand if you’re the Tánaiste but not when you’re a parent with young children and the landlord is giving you a steely glare all the while knowing he/she can get an extra 300 quid a month on the open market over the limit that the Department are prepared to pay him. Your negotiating stance is fairly weak in that situation!

There were grandiose statements about building targets and new units – in smaller print underneath was the fact that delivery and implementation of these policies would not be until 2017 or 2020 in some cases.

Given that this Government’s term in office ends in April 2016 at the latest, it’s quite presumptive and somewhat arrogant to formulate a response based on policy that won’t be implemented for 2-5 years particularly when the crisis is in the here and now.

The mismanagement of so many elements of society, not least housing policy, by this Government and its predecessor has misled people into believing that we don’t have the capacity or the capabilities to deal with extra demand on our services.

In truth, if we could just get our act together, reorganise how we do things, and start looking at meaningful, outside the box, solutions, we could design quality systems and public services to create a country where people want to live, aspire to emigrate to, and an Ireland that others want to return to.

Instead you’ll likely get a vote-buying tax cut in the upcoming budget while services and social infrastructure crumble around us and meanwhile Joan will go from renting out her party to the conservative right and instead sign up them for a long-term lease.

Anne-Marie McNally is a Political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and will be a candidate for The Social Democrats in the next General Election. Opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by her employers. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

49 thoughts on “Foreclose On The Right Wing

  1. ReproBertie

    “the landlord is giving you a steely glare all the while knowing he/she can get an extra 300 quid a month on the open market” Or maybe the landlord is realising that the reduced limit means the rent won’t cover the mortgage & insurance & property tax and they’re barely making ends meet as it is and are certainly not a damned charity FFS.

    Not all landlords are baby-eating, lizard-eyed billionaires.

      1. ReproBertie

        With little or no warning Joan reduced the rate being paid on rent allowance and told tenants to negotiate the reduced rent with their landlords. Landlord’s corresponding expenses (mortgage/insurance/LPT etc) didn’t get reduced and they were and are painted as heartless misers for not taking the reduced income on the chin.

          1. ReproBertie

            It depends on the local council area but what does that matter? You’re still expecting the landlord to take up the slack based on the assumption that they have loads of money and can afford to subsidise tenants that have been screwed over by the government.

            Try telling your mobile phone or tv provider that you are going to pay €5 a month less but are keeping the same package.

          2. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Where did I say they should get a freeride? I would expect the landlord to raise the rent in accordance with the decrease, not by 300/month just because they can when the lose is only 75/month. That’s dickhead behaviour. And they are wealthy by fact that they own a second home.

          3. ReproBertie

            Why would the landlord raise the rent in accordance with the decrease? That’s doubling the gap the tenant has to bridge. Why would the landlord raise the rent mid-term anyway? The government was telling tenants to ask the landlord to reduce the rent to match the new limits. €300/month is a figure that Anne-Marie plucked out of her hole to further demonise landlords.

            Many landlords are stuck with a second property due to deaths in the family or two property owners marrying at a time when the property market fell through the floor.

          4. Dόn Pídgéόní

            I don’t know, I haven’t had coffee yet. It made sense earlier.

            “Many landlords are stuck with a second property due to deaths in the family or two property owners marrying at a time when the property market fell through the floor.”

            Excuse my bleeding heart…

          5. ReproBertie

            I wasn’t posting that looking for sympathy for accidental landlords, just pointing out that not all landlords rushed around snapping up investment properties.

          6. Dόn Pídgéόní

            True but in my experience those are the good guys, the ones who fix things that are broken and who don’t increase the rent unless the absolutely have to.

          7. ReproBertie

            And yet they are painted as mercenaries by the likes of Anne-Marie when they refuse to reduce the rent just because the government decided to screw over people that rely on rent supplement.

          8. Owen C

            Don, you said:

            ” And they are wealthy by fact that they own a second home.”

            So do we now have a class of people that are considered “wealthy” even though they may be in a significantly insolvent personal wealth situation given negative equity etc? Interesting re-definition of these terms.

          9. Don Pidgeoni

            Absolutely Owen.

            Rep – those landlords aren’t likely to though are they. They’ll keep a tenant they are happy with if they can. However, they are a tiny minority. Most will gauge your eyes out for an extra five a month. And don’t get me started on agents.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          If the landlord cannot afford to rent in the new market conditions they should get out of property, and leave it to those that can afford to run a business on tight margins.

          The boom be over, get out of the business if you can’t afford it, too many landlords are clinging to property they cannot afford.

          1. ReproBertie

            Yes Clampers, because there’s queues of people with 20% deposits looking to snap up all those properties that accidental landlords want rid of.

            Maybe you’re right though. Maybe landlords are just too soft and should push rent to the maximum and to hell with the tenants that have been there for years if they can’t afford it.

          2. Cup of tea anyone

            Is there any other business where people would not take advantage of supply v’s demand and raise their prices to match the market price.

            It may not be nice but that is business. Some landlords are willies but not all of them.

            I think a great solution would be for the council to take set up a maintenance company and get long term leases with landlords directly. That way the council can be responsible for maintenance etc, also Instead of the government paying the tenants who pay the landlord, the money can go straight to the landlord. It reduces the risk for landlords and increases stability for the tenants.

            Also me and my friend DOB could set it up for a small consultancy fee of 50bn

    1. AlisonT

      Totally agree, as landlords are the only real solution to the problem we should stop demonising them and actually look at what would make people want to be long term landlords. Instead the government have made property the only business where you cannot write off funding costs against tax and they have now made landlords responsible for the water charges of tenants.

      1. classter

        Landlords are not the only solution to the problem, certainly not the unprofessional, part-time petty bourgeoisie group that dominate the sector in Ireland currently.

        Its that kind of limited thinking which got us into this mess.

        The idea that Irish people are being held back from becoming landlords because society ‘demonises’ them is possibly the most disingenuous/myopic (one or the other, not sure which) I’ve ever read on this site.

  2. ahyeah

    Anne-marie, what is your solution to the problem ? You are now running as a candidate for a very well paid job, so it is not enough to just pen a moanfest about Labour.

  3. AlisonT

    This is all political and media strategy and no homeless strategy. Complain but offer no money or solution.

  4. trudat

    “Opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by her employers.” lol

    so you’re working for a party that you’re going to be running for but ye don’t agree on this? wat?

  5. Clampers Outside!

    A lot of wind in that comment, no actual offering of any alternative only shouting ‘we must do something’; without offering what… we already have a tonne of people in the Dáil doing that, we don’t need any more.

    I’m expecting more from the Soc Dems, not the same ol’ same ol’

  6. Just sayin'

    I really wonder why broadsheet are giving platforms to Mercille, Dan Boyle and Ann Marie McNally. They are entitled to their editorial position but it really gets rather tedious. Decide what kind of website you want to be and leave it there. It it’s a website for the sharing of socialist philosophies, then I can move on. I already visit here about half as often as I used to.

  7. Shane

    I blame the people that move into these houses, it’s their fault for paying these “unfair” rents.

    Also, landlords have now to pay prsi, LPT, USC aswell as less mortgage interest relief. All additional costs that were not going to be absorbed by landlords alone.

    And opinion pieces which do lots of giving out and we need “outside the box thinking” but doesn’t actually do any afore mentioned thinking are in no way productive.

    1. dereviled

      Is that not her point though, that we have talked about all of the issues you mention and drawn-up a 20point plan that actually pushes the problem onto the next administration?

    2. Doolally

      Yes, there’s no end of giving out about the unfairness of landlords having to pay PRSI, USC and LPT – how outrageous that their income is no longer given preferred treatment and now subjected to the same taxes as everyone else!

  8. marie

    Think it’s fairly obvious that the point here is not to slag off landlords but saying that what landlord in their right mind is going to put up with a situation where they would accept a rent lower than the market rent and that’s what Government policy is asking them to do, the problem as I read it, lies with Government not Landlord according to this article.
    then it seems fair to highlight the problems and concerns about the issue but hardly think a small column is the place to expect her to lay out policy platform now is it?

    1. DubLoony

      Why not? I hear lots of people giving out about government ( quite rightly) but very few offering any details on what they would do instead.

    2. classter

      ‘what landlord in their right mind is going to put up with a situation where they would accept a rent lower than the market rent and that’s what Government policy is asking them to do,’

      That is not correct. What govt policy is trying to do is use the govt’s heft to help reduce the market rent. unfortunately other govt policies are acting directly contrary to this.

  9. timble

    Raising rent limits won’t produce any extra accommodation – it’s a supply crisis. Off the top of the head solutions from the SocDems

    Raising them will mean that rents for all 60,000 plus RS homes go up, costing the state a fortune.

    The problem with landlords is that they expect their tenants and the State (through write offs of all costs including interest) to cover the cost of their mortgage so that in 20 – 30 years they’ll have an asset debt free and a nice flow of income.
    Owner occupiers don’t get interest relief.

    Economist has done some interestign articles on this issue recently
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/07/economics-buy-let

    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21651220-most-western-economies-sweeten-cost-borrowing-bad-idea-senseless-subsidy

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21651213-subsidies-make-borrowing-irresistible-need-be-phased-out-great-distortion

    1. Doolally

      Best comment here. It makes zero social or economic sense for the monthly rent to exceed the mortgage payment. If landlords were continually contributing financially to their future asset instead of profiteering, akin to regular pension contributions rather than once-off investing in shares, it would stabilise the market massively.

  10. Mayor Quimby

    Wordy,Tuna Mullally style waffle (poor prose, too much passive voice) . No proposals; no impact.

    and she’s bragging about her “Grad of MA Political Comms” on Twitter??

    Enjoy losing the next election

  11. Neilo

    A Masters in gussied-up media studies – it’d do if you had a cold and ran out of Kleenex, I suppose.

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