Unfinished Housing Developments

Questions (176)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

176. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider a submission which includes an estate (details supplied) in County Offaly for funding from the site resolution fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18343/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Budget 2014 contains a special provision, in the form of a targeted €10m Special Resolution Fund (SRF), to assist further in addressing the legacy of unfinished housing developments. The SRF is designed to encourage the resolution of the remaining tranche of unfinished developments identified in the National Housing Development Survey 2013 and, particularly, those developments not likely to be resolved in the normal way through solely developer/owner/funder action because of the presence of specific financial barriers. It is envisaged that the SRF should be particularly targeted to address the remaining unfinished developments with residents living in them and, in particular, any developments that local authorities identified, for the purposes of the Local Property Tax waiver, as in a seriously problematic condition.

My Department is currently evaluating SRF applications from local authorities in accordance with the specified criteria. I understand that an application for funding under the SRF was received in respect of the development in question, to which a Local Property Tax waiver applies. I am conscious of the limited time available to complete SRF projects within the current year and, while I am not currently in a position to confirm whether the application in respect of the development in question will be successful, I expect that my Department will be in a position to finalise its consideration of the matter in the very near future.

I hope that the SRF will enable very substantial progress to be made in resolving as many of the remaining unfinished developments as possible.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Questions (177)

Arthur Spring

Question:

177. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if funding will be provided to replace the remaining pipe network in the mid-Kerry water supply scheme in view of the number of interruptions to that water scheme in recent years. [18345/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 158 of 3 April 2014. The position is unchanged.

Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that it has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. They may be contacted vis email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on 1890 278 278.

Tree Remediation

Questions (178)

Seán Kenny

Question:

178. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the rights a home owner has to seek redress where a tree growing in an adjoining property is blocking sunlight and daylight from that property. [18384/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There is no legislation in Ireland regulating the height of trees and hedges. There is also no right in Irish law to receive light in a garden and, while there is a civil remedy, of nuisance, available in respect of the branches or roots of a neighbour’s trees encroaching on one’s property, there is no civil law remedy in respect of the loss of light in a garden due to a neighbour’s high trees or hedges.

Local Authority Funding

Questions Nos. 180 and 181 answered with Question No. 170.

Questions (179)

Robert Troy

Question:

179. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of grant aid that was allocated to the local authorities in counties Westmeath and Longford since 2013. [18434/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

On 16 January 2014, I announced details of the capital allocations under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability. The schemes are funded by 80% recoupments available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority.

The allocation to Westmeath County Council under the grant schemes for 2014 is €701,250, of which €140,250 is to be provided from the Council’s own resources. The Council’s 2013 allocation under the grant schemes was €435,722, of which €87,144 was provided from own resources.

The allocation to Longford County Council under the grant schemes for 2014 is €744,467, of which €148,893 is to be provided from the Council’s own resources. The Council’s 2013 allocation under the grant schemes was €687,674, of which €137,535 was provided from own resources.

Through careful management of my Department’s housing budget in 2013 additional funds were made available to local authorities with high levels of grant activity. I will be applying the same scrutiny to the capital budget for 2014 and, in the event of savings arising, these grants will be a priority for supplementary funding.

Questions Nos. 180 and 181 answered with Question No. 170.

Dormant Accounts Fund Grants

Questions (182)

Michael McGrath

Question:

182. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will set out in tabular form the annual disbursement since 2003 from the Dormant Account Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18504/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under the Dormant Accounts legislation, balances on dormant accounts with banks, building societies and An Post and the net encashment value of certain life assurance policies are paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency. The primary purpose of the legislation is to re-unite the original account holders with their moneys, including all interest due. In addition, the legislation also provides that disbursements from the fund may be made for charitable purposes or for purposes of community benefit.

Since its establishment in April 2003 to the end of January 2014, the transfers to the Dormant Accounts Fund have totalled some €724m, which includes interest earned of approximately €39m. Funds reclaimed in that period by account holders amounted to around €273m. Around €277m of disbursements have been approved, with some €252m already spent on projects designed to benefit the community over the same period. The current balance of uncommitted funds is €108.48m. Further data in relation to Dormant Accounts funding are available on my Department’s website at http://www.environ.ie/en/Community/DormantAccounts/.

The details requested are set out in the table.

Dormant Accounts Expenditure from 2008 to 2013*

Year

Disbursed by NTMA

2003

0

2004

€14,000,000

2005

€14,400,000

2006

€33,250,000

2007

€45,511,412

2008

€73,050,705

2009

€37,644,335

2010

€20,267,035

2011

€8,403,338

2012

€4,159,969

2013

€1,486,993

*The data for 2013 have not been finalised by the NTMA.

Seniors Alert Scheme

Questions (183)

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

183. Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government taking into account that personal monitored alarms are now available using mobile technology, the progress he has made in examining these alternative systems for the senior alert scheme; if funding will be available for personal alarms to be monitored through mobile phones, along with land lines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18523/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Seniors Alert Scheme aims to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities by providing grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department.

My Department only approved applications for personal monitored alarms connected to a landline up to October 2013. Personal monitored alarms are now available using mobile technology and these alternative systems may also be funded at a similar rate when the sponsoring Community Group is satisfied that it meets the requirements of the beneficiary. It will be a matter for the sponsoring community group to satisfy itself that a system using mobile technology provides reliable coverage in its area. Mobile type devices currently on offer do not provide full mobile phone functionality and therefore are not a replacement for a telephone.

The funding allocated for the Seniors Alert Scheme in 2014 is €2.35million, which is sufficient to meet current demand levels for this important scheme.

Upward Only Rent Reviews

Questions (184, 187)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

184. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to address the problem of upward-only rent reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18389/14]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

187. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will support the Irish Hairdressers Federation and its concerns regarding upward-only rent reviews (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18308/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 and 187 together.

It will be recalled that the Government made the difficult decision in December 2011 not to proceed with the commitment in the Programme for Government to abolish upward only rent reviews in so called "legacy leases", i.e., those entered into before 28 February 2010. There was a substantial concern that any legislative scheme involving interference in the contractual relationships of private parties would find it extremely difficult to survive a Constitutional challenge. In addition, the Government was advised that any model proposed would require the payment of compensation to landlords whose rights were infringed in order to ensure that the proposal would be compatible with the Constitution and with the European Convention on Human Rights. The situation has not changed since 2011 and, as I have indicated in my replies to previous Parliamentary Questions on the subject of upward only rent review clauses, there are no plans to re-examine the decision which was taken in 2011.