In response to the shameful practice of institutional investors, or cuckoo funds, buying up family homes in bulk and pushing ordinary home buyers out of the market, the Government chose to introduce an inadequate increase in stamp duty in respect of houses. Not alone did the Government fail to tackle the issue in relation to houses, it decided to take no action whatsoever on apartments. It is important for us to remember that half of all homes built in Dublin last year were apartments. Six out of seven homes in Dublin city are apartments. The vast majority of these homes are being snapped up by funds, which do not pay even a single cent of tax on rental income. In fact, last year, one of them made €75 million in rental income and paid no tax on it whatsoever. The Government has taken no action on this. It is little wonder the funds' share price increased following the Government's announcement last month. Clearly, the Government's message to those who want to buy a home that is affordable is, "Sorry, not on our watch", because it is actively facilitating a free-for-all for these institutional funds.
It was not just Sinn Féin that called this out and stated the Government's measures were inadequate. Others did likewise, not least senior officials within the Department of Finance. Through freedom of information, we can now clearly see that, in early May, the Government was warned that no extra stamp duty on bulk purchases of apartments means individual purchasers are potentially driven out of the market due to the lack of availability. That is what the Government was told by its own officials, yet it ignored their advice and proceeded with a policy it knows will not address the issue in respect of apartments.
Let me spell it out for the Tánaiste. Apartments are homes just like houses. People want to live in these homes in our cities. They should not be forced to fork out unaffordable rents in perpetuity to do so. The policy choice the Tánaiste and his Government made says to workers and families that this Government is not on their side, but on the side of the funds, developers and banks. That is the reality. Yesterday, we saw other evidence of this, when it was reported that 398 homes across three locations in this city, Santry, Finglas and Clongriffin, were snapped up by these funds. Not one of these homes will come on to the market for first-time buyers and not one of the funds has to pay the increased stamp duty.
Why did the Minister for Finance ignore the warnings from his own Department officials that the decision taken on apartments would continue to see first-time buyers blocked and locked out of the market? Will the Government, once and for all, end the sweetheart tax deals that these funds enjoy? We need to stop these funds snapping up homes, apartments and houses that should, and must, go to ordinary workers and families. Further to this, just a couple of weeks ago, the Dáil was emphatically told by the Taoiseach that the message that should "go out loud and clear" was that "No local authority should be on the other side of this, engaging in a long lease with these institutional investors". However, we learned just this morning that the Minister for Finance intends to do exactly the opposite. He intends to exempt these funds from paying the higher stamp duty if they lease these houses back to the local authorities. How the hell can this stand? How can this be facilitated, given the Taoiseach's comments in the Dáil just a couple of weeks ago?