The former chairman of the Private Residential Tenancies Board has called on the government to encourage pension funds to invest in residential property to meet the demand for rented accommodation.
Addressing the Irish Council for Social Housing’s AGM on Tuesday, Tom Dunne said there was an over-reliance on the private landlord to provide homes to renters.
“Housing offers good long-term returns to the financial services industry and, as there are very limited options available, it is time to look at pension funds to provide finance for social housing,” he said.
The meeting heard the level of housing need was at “crisis levels”, with more than 98,000 households on the waiting lists, increased levels of homelessness and significant numbers at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears.
The council said changed criteria for housing associations to draw down seed capital from the State to develop social housing was making it “almost impossible” to provide more housing.
Mr Dunne said residential property provided a return of about 7-8% per annum, which should be attractive to pension funds.
Donal McManus, executive director of the council, said the provision of social housing was undergoing a transformation.
“There is a big shift from traditional bricks-and-mortar capital expenditure to revenue funding. Solely relying on the private rental market is unwise and it is essential that voluntary housing associations are supported with adequate funding,” he said.