NAMA has a well-established overriding commercial mandate to recoup the best return for the Irish taxpayer. However, that does not mean that NAMA does not carry out activities, such as facilitating the delivery of residential and social housing, which are entirely consistent with its existing purpose and objectives.
NAMA is already making a significant contribution to the supply of housing within the State where it is in a position to do so. NAMA’s residential funding programme, has delivered over 8,000 new residential units since it was announced in 2014 and is committed to facilitating the delivery of 20,000 residential units by 2020. In addition, NAMA has an established policy of identifying to Local Authorities and approved housing bodies, properties within its portfolio which may be suitable for social housing. As of end-of-June 2018, 6,984 such properties have been identified, with demand confirmed for 2,717 and 2,474 delivered or committed. Part of this delivery has been through NAMA’s innovative National Asset Residential Property Services (NARPS) model, which has purchased over 1,300 properties from NAMA debtors and leased them on for social housing.
It is important to recognise that NAMA does not own property, rather, NAMA owns loans secured by property which is owned by its debtors. NAMA, as a lender, cannot force a borrower to take action which would reduce his or her repayment capacity, such as providing a property for social or public housing where that is not the financially optimal course of action for the debtor. To do so would compromise a borrower's capacity to repay his or her debts to NAMA and would constitute a direct breach of the borrower's property rights, protected under Article 43 of the Constitution. I am advised that directing NAMA to act counter to these obligations is not one lawfully open to me in all the current circumstances.
Furthermore, there would be many legislative, balance sheet and State aid implications in repurposing NAMA away from its existing objectives. NAMA was established with a very specific legal mandate, which was approved by the European Commission in 2010. It is important that NAMA’s role is preserved and that it completes its work in line with its original mandate.