Profiteering is coming at the expense of communities whose social fabric is being torn asunder. The inner-city has become a construction site, as one community activist sees it, with cranes surrounding us as we speak.
At the same time, the housing crisis continues to deepen because most of the buildings under construction are office blocks, luxury apartments, hotels and high-end student accommodation.
The cost of housing is transforming working-class inner-city communities, as locals are priced out.
“If housing supply and housing demand are closely aligned, there is some equilibrium in the market,” says Noel Wardick of Dublin City Community Co-op. “But we have the exact opposite.”
There are thousands of families living in homeless accommodation in the inner city and many of them are people who are working, he says.
Lots of other families are living in situations of severe overcrowding, doubling up with elderly grandparents.
“Successive government’s housing policy has been an abject failure,” says Noel.
Locals desperately need homes but yet luxury housing lies empty and student housing built is allowed to be converted to holiday lets.
There is a vacant land tax now but there is still no tax on vacant homes.
Empty Luxury Homes
Some vacant homes are old run-down buildings that need a lot of investment. Others are houses where the owner has died and there is a dispute in the family.
But in the last year, a different type of vacancy has become particularly evident, in Dublin city centre.
Thousands of high end, newly built homes, including student homes and luxury apartments, lie empty.
Killian Woods, writing in the Sunday Business Post, recently examined vacancy in the high-end apartments, by one developer in the inner city, Kennedy Wilson.
More than two years since its launch, around half of the 190 apartments in Capital Dock, Ireland’s tallest building, are still empty. Those 2 bedroom apartments in the Docklands are priced at around €3,300 per month.
Meanwhile, nearly four-fifths of the 246 apartments in phase three of Clancy Quay in Dublin 8 are empty. Rents there start from €2,200 for a two-bed, and €2,700 for a three-bed.
There is an oversupply of luxury apartments in the city, says architect and housing commentator Mel Reynolds.
The Real Estate Investment Trusts that own the buildings may be reluctant to drop the rents because the share value of their company is based on a certain ‘yield’, he says.
If they do lower the rent they will not be able to hike it later because of the rent caps.
This article is part of a 3-part series, as published in Issue 72, Spring 2021, of ‘Changing Ireland.