The UIPI continue to be very active on behalf of property owners in Europe. Their presence in Brussels is very important and they are lobbying and keeping us abreast of a myriad of issues affecting, or which may affect, property owners. It is very important for the IPOA to be one of the thirty member organisations making up the UIPI across 28 EU countries, as it gives us a stronger voice and allows us to be proactive rather than reactive in regard to EU proposals affecting Ireland. Over the last few years, almost every EU country has substantially increased property taxation, and this has been particularly evident in the private rental sector where property has become the most taxed asset, and renting property has become the most taxed business in Europe.
The UIPI President, Stratos Paradias from Greece, says: “Government must create housing policies that foster housing development and balance the needs of owner-occupiers, social housing and the private rented sector. Favouring any one sector over the others will only serve to distort the housing market and be detrimental to all the people.”
The UIPI identified a non-exhaustive list of twelve areas presently under scrutiny by the European Commission which directly impact on property owners:
1. Moving from income based taxation policies to property tax and/or other taxation such as environmental tax.
2. Restructuring property tax
3. Updating property tax valuations as a tax base.
4. Reviewing reduced VAT rates on repair and renovation of housing, etc.
5. Strengthening rent regulation.
6. Reducing mortgage interest payments.
7. Phasing out tax deductibility of interest payments.
8. Planning and zoning controls.
9. Reducing obstacles to cross-border construction and real estate services.
10. Increasing construction competition.
11. Energy efficiency measures.
12. Reduction of energy costs.
However, not all recommendations come down as positive or negative for property owners. Examples of that include Sweden, where the Commission recommended that the efficiency of its housing market would be improved by phasing out remaining elements of Rent Control, while on the other hand, the Commission recommended moving away from income-related taxes in countries like Austria and the Czech Republic and relying on other taxation sources such as recurrent property taxes.
In Ireland, the Government seems intent on adopting both of these ideas – but in a typical Irish solution: introduce Rent Control and increase taxation on property owners. So we could get the worst of everything! The IPOA make continual submissions in respect of our members, and
the IPOA Chairman is a member of the European Affairs Committee. This is a very challenging situation for the IPOA as there are continual demands for submissions.
More information on the UIPI can be found on www.uipi.com