Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (359)

James Bannon

Question:

359. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when he proposes to introduce a new tenant purchase scheme; if it will accommodate tenants on long-term social welfare payments who believe they have been discriminated against on previous tenant purchase schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15053/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government, on 17 December 2013, approved priority drafting of a Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that will, among other things, underpin a new tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority houses along incremental purchase lines. I expect that the Bill will be enacted this year, following which I will prescribe in regulations the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme.

Tenants are not precluded from tenant purchase by virtue of being social welfare recipients and there is no intention to change this practice in the future. However, tenants seeking to fund the purchase through loan finance from the housing authority must meet the criteria that apply to such loans, which are set out in the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2012 and associated credit policy. This policy provides that loans are not available to social welfare recipients, except where these constitute long-term Department of Social Protection payments in conjunction with a primary income of a permanent and salaried nature. The final decision on whether or not to approve a loan in a particular case lies with the relevant housing authority, which must satisfy itself as to the borrower's capacity to service the loan over its full term.