Irish fund, already one of state's biggest landlords, buys 150 second-hand homes for rental market in six months

A single Irish fund, already one of the biggest landlords in the state, has in the last six months bought more than 150 second-hand homes.

One of its latest offerings is a one-bed flat on Gardiner Street Upper, Dublin 1, which is advertised to rent for almost €2,000 a month.

The fund is run by two property developers whose company had its loans transferred to Nama after the 2008 property crash, along with the former chief executive of one of the state’s biggest homebuilders.

Last September The Ditch reported that the Vestry Limited Partnership owned more than 850 second-hand properties it had bought in the last three years. Since that report the Dublin-based firm has bought a further 150.

With a property portfolio worth well in excess of €200 million and claimed profits of more than €20 million for 2021, the fund itself doesn’t pay tax in Ireland, with its investment partners instead liable.

‘Vestry has since bought more than 350 investment properties’

The Vestry Limited Partnership was formed in September 2019 and its directors are Christy Dowling, Robert Kehoe and Andrew Gunne.

Dowling and Kehoe co-own the Newlyn Group of companies, which had €22 million of its loans transferred to Nama in 2011. A charge to Nama remains on Newlyn’s books. In 2007, Dowling and Kehoe, through their firm Newyln Developments, made a €1,500 political donation to former Fianna Fáil TD Joe Behan.

Gunne meanwhile is a former CEO of Chartered Land, one of Ireland’s biggest property developers.

The Vestry General Partner DAC, the entity the fund uses to register its investments, is the owner of 903 properties in Ireland and has more than 100 purchase transactions pending with the Land Registry.

These figures were confirmed by documents obtained by The Ditch this week.

Vestry has managed to set rental fees at prices surpassing its own projections, with its most recent accounts reading, “Lettings continued at pace even during the Covid-19 crisis, with 819 lettings completed to date with rents agreed 12 percent above business plan.”

It made a profit of €23.5 million during the same 12-month period

After the heavily criticised government move to exempt apartments from higher tax rates for bulk buyers of property, the fund has said it’s now focused on buying up apartments.

After buying properties worth €88.56 million from March 2020 to March 2021 – bringing its total property assets to €198 million – Vestry has since bought more than 350 investment properties.

Property Price Register sales figures indicate that in many cases Vestry is buying properties 15-30 percent below the market value of similar homes. On average the fund is acquiring 25 second-hand properties every month.

A one-bed flat on Gardiner Street Upper, Dublin advertised to rent for €1,895 a month is among the properties advertised to rent on behalf of Vestry. Other apartments advertised by the fund’s estate agent include a two-bed in Drumcondra, Dublin 9 for €2,500 a month.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors