Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 70.

Local Government Reform

Questions (112)

Shane Cassells

Question:

112. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the new municipal borough district model being proposed by him under plans announced in December 2017 will be afforded statutory budgetary and planning powers for its administrative areas distinct from its parent county council authority. [4543/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for a Partnership Government (PPG) sets out a number of requirements in relation to local government reform. This involves the submission of a report to Government and the Oireachtas on potential measures to boost local government leadership and accountability, and to ensure that local government funding, structures and responsibilities strengthen local democracy. The Programme also references some specific issues to be considered such as the concept of directly elected mayors in cities, devolution of new powers to local authorities, reducing the size of local electoral areas, and town council status.

It is intended that proposals to address the PPG requirements will be submitted to Government shortly, following which the matters involved will be referred to the Oireachtas for consideration. Among the issues being addressed in this context is the scope to strengthen the decision-making role and capacity of the elected members at municipal district level, particularly in relation to budgetary and local development matters, and capacity to promote economic and social development of towns. It should also be noted that municipal district members already have significant powers in the planning area, including responsibility for the adoption of local area plans.

Homelessness Strategy

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 64.

Question No. 115 answered with Question No. 105.

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 70.

Questions Nos. 117 and 118 answered with Question No. 61.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 89.

Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 64.

Questions (113)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

113. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which he is planning to reduce the flow of families and individuals into homelessness as a result of evictions and mortgage repossessions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4422/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Tenancies Acts regulate the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented sector and set out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. Furthermore, the Residential Tenancies Board was established as an independent statutory body to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

Under the Acts, where a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of six months, and no notice of termination has been served, the tenancy is established for the remainder of the four year period; this is referred to in the Act as a ‘Part 4’ tenancy.  Where a Part 4 tenancy is being terminated, the landlord must state the reason in a termination notice. The termination will not be valid unless that reason is one of those set out in the Acts - for example, that vacant possession is required for substantial refurbishment of the dwelling. Notice periods for the termination of a tenancy by the landlord vary, depending on the duration of the tenancy, but periods of up to 224 days are provided for. 

Threshold, the housing charity, operates the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) which is a national service providing advice and support to households living in private rented accommodation who are experiencing tenancy problems, including where a tenancy is at risk of termination. The TPS seeks to protect existing tenancies, keeping people in their home and preventing them from having to access homeless services. Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) helpline on free-phone 1800 454 454 is available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm. Further information is also available at www.threshold.ie.

I also intend to introduce legislation as soon as possible in 2018 to make it an offence to implement rent increases that contravene the Rent Pressure Zone limits. The Residential Tenancies Board will be given the powers and resources to investigate and prosecute landlords who implement such increases.

With regard to mortgage repossessions, while the circumstances of each case may vary, depending on the terms of the mortgage or charge under which a receiver is appointed, the appointment of a receiver does not affect the statutory or contractual rights of tenants under the Residential Tenancies Acts.  

The Strategy for the Rental Sector, which was published in December 2016, recognises that receivership and repossession processes can cause confusion and distress for tenants.  It also committed my Department to establishing an Inter-Departmental Working Group to explore the scope to provide for greater protection of tenants’ rights during the receivership process by ensuring that persons appointed as receivers will be required to fulfil the obligations of a landlord. The Working Group is expected to finalise its report later in Q1 2018.

The Government is committed to supporting households in long-term mortgage arrears to remain in their homes where possible. There are currently two Mortgage to Rent (MTR) schemes funded by my Department. One of the schemes provides that a local authority can acquire ownership of properties with unsustainable local authority mortgages, thus enabling the household to remain in their home as a social housing tenant. The second scheme provides that an Approved Housing Body (AHB) can acquire ownership of a property with an unsustainable private mortgage from a lender, while also allowing the household to remain in their home as a social housing tenant. Both schemes are part of the overall suite of social housing options and an important part of the mortgage arrears resolution process.  These schemes target only the most acute arrears cases where a mortgage is clearly unsustainable.

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 64.
Question No. 115 answered with Question No. 105.
Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 70.
Questions Nos. 117 and 118 answered with Question No. 61.
Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 89.
Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 64.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (121)

Shane Cassells

Question:

121. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Taoiseach the names of advisers he has appointed to his office since becoming Taoiseach; the responsibilities of each; the previous employment of each; the salaries of each; and if he plans to make further additional appointments. [4875/18]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

There are seven Special Advisers employed in my office. They are detailed in the following table:

Name

Role

Salary Level

Previous Employment

Brian Murphy

Chief of Staff

Deputy Secretary

Special Adviser [Minister for Social Protection]

John Carroll

Head of Policy and Programme Implementation

Assistant Secretary

Chief Executive Officer, Public Relations Institute of Ireland

Patrick Geoghegan

Special Adviser (on secondment)

Assistant Secretary

Professor in Modern History, Trinity College Dublin

Angela Flanagan

Special Adviser

Principal Officer

Special Adviser [Taoiseach]

Philip O'Callaghan

Special Adviser

Principal Officer

Policy & Parliamentary Adviser [Minister for Social Protection]

Clare Mungovan

Special Adviser

Principal Officer

Special Adviser [Minister of State for Defence]

Jim D'Arcy

Special Adviser

Assistant Principal Officer (Higher)

Senator

The Special Advisers working in my office provide briefings and advice on a wide range of policy matters, as well as performing other functions as I may direct from time to time. They also liaise with other Special Advisers in each Government Department so that I remain informed on developments across Government. I keep the resourcing of my advisory team under ongoing review.