Local Authority Housing Eligibility

Questions (736)

Robert Troy

Question:

736. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to review the income guidelines for local authority housing lists in view of rental increases. [9588/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for eligibility for social housing support for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy, published by my Department.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band are based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflect a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn and thereby promote sustainable communities.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports has commenced. I expect the results of this review to be available for publication later this year.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (737)

Robert Troy

Question:

737. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to deal with landlords who ignore tenants who are engaged in anti-social behaviour. [9589/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Action to deal with anti-social behaviour is primarily a matter for An Garda Síochána.

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 sets out the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords in the private rented sector and the Approved Housing Body sector. Under section 16(h) of the Residential Tenancies Act, a tenant shall not engage, nor allow their visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour. Section 17 of the Act defines anti-social behaviour to include behaviour that: constitutes the commission of an offence reasonably likely to affect directly the well-being or welfare of others; could cause fear, danger, injury, damage or loss to certain persons; or persistently prevents or interferes with the peaceful occupation of others in the property or neighbourhood.

Under section 15 of the Act, a landlord owes to each person who could be potentially affected a duty to enforce the tenant’s obligations and section 77 provides that third parties who are directly and adversely affected by tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour may, subject to certain conditions, refer a complaint to the RTB for resolution, where a landlord has failed to enforce their tenant’s obligations. Further information can be obtained on the RTB’s website at www.rtb.ie .

In relation to tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour in a local authority dwelling, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 provides for a court order on application by the tenant, tenant purchaser or the housing authority or approved body concerned, which has the effect of excluding a household member engaged in anti-social behaviour from the dwelling and, if appropriate, from the estate in question for a maximum period of 3 years. The Act also empowers a housing authority to refuse to allocate or sell a dwelling to a person engaged in anti-social behaviour or in the interest of good estate management.

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 strengthened the powers of housing authorities in relation to securing excluding orders where there is anti-social behaviour in their housing stock. Part 2 of the 2014 Act prescribes procedures to deal with serious breaches of the tenancy agreements for their dwellings, including anti-social behaviour and strengthens the power of housing authorities to recover possession of their dwellings from households in serious breach of their tenancy agreements, including engaging in anti-social behaviour.

Section 35 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 requires each housing authority, by reserved function, to adopt an ‘‘anti-social behaviour strategy’’ for the prevention and reduction of anti-social behaviour in its housing stock.

Such strategies apply to dwellings let under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2009 and dwellings let under Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) Availability Agreements (Chapter 4), as defined in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. The tenancy agreement and legislation, which forms an integral part of the anti-social behaviour strategy, allows for a more targeted approach in dealing with persons engaged in anti-social behaviour and to avoid, if possible, the eviction of an entire household.

In respect of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, under section 45(6) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, local authorities may refuse to provide, or cease providing, housing assistance in respect of a qualified household where the local authority considers that any household member is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. Under this section, the local authority may also refuse to permit a person who proposes to take up or resume residence or enter or be in a dwelling the subject of housing assistance where the local authority considers that the person is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. As they are private rental tenancies, the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Acts also apply to tenancies in the RAS and HAP schemes. It is a matter for local authorities to assess whether housing applicants are engaging in anti-social behaviour.

Planning Issues

Questions (738)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

738. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether a process of public notification should be enacted in advance of a private residential dwelling having a change of use to a commercial property, that is, a change of use from a private dwelling to a guest house or a change of use from a private dwelling to one used for residential care for commercial purposes. [9614/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, all development, including a material change of use, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission.

Section 4 of the Act and Article 6 and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended) set out in more detail the various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission. Furthermore, Article 10 of the Regulations provides that certain changes of use, with regard to particular classes of use, are also exempted from the requirement to obtain permission. Any such exemptions are subject to compliance with any general restrictions on exemptions set out in the Act or the Regulations and to the specific conditions set out in each class of exempted development in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.

Article 10(4) of the 2001 Regulations provides that:

‘Development consisting of the use of not more than 4 bedrooms in a house, where each bedroom is used for the accommodation of not more than 4 persons as overnight guest accommodation, shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Act, provided that such development would not contravene a condition attached to a permission under the Act or be inconsistent with any use specified or included in such a permission.’

It is important to note that, for the purposes of Article 10(4), the Regulations provide that “house” does not “include a building designed for use or used as 2 or more dwellings or a flat, an apartment or other dwelling within such a building”.

Part (f) of Class 14 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the 2001 Regulations provides an exemption for development consisting of a change of use from use as a house, to use as a residence for persons with an intellectual or physical disability or mental illness and persons providing care for such persons, subject to conditions and limitations.

The exemptions provided for in the 2001 Regulations are kept under regular review. Exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of specific forms of development are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development. If an exemption is not provided for in the Act or associated Regulations, planning permission is required, under which a number of public notifications are made during the consideration of the application.

I am satisfied that the current arrangements for the consideration of planning applications allow for extensive public participation in the decision-making process and I have no proposals to amend the legislation in this regard.

Building Regulations Compliance

Questions (739, 740, 741)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

739. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if section 3(5) of the Building Control Act 1990 requires that each building to which the building regulations apply must be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of those regulations; the way in which local authorities ensure compliance and enforcement of section 3(5); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9616/18]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

740. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department has now fully investigated all alleged building insulation and fire safety defects, in particular, in respect of timber frame buildings in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9617/18]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

741. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on safety risks with regard to timber frame buildings; the way in which local authorities and his Department ensure enforcement of all building regulations in timber framed properties in particular those built during the boom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9618/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 739 to 741, inclusive, together.

Section 3(5) of the Building Control Act 1990, provides that every building to which building regulations apply shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of such regulations.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, including Part B (Fire Safety), rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities, who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers.

In general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

In August 2017, I published a Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings, where concerns arise. The Framework is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations.

In response to the many building failures that have emerged over the past decade, my Department introduced the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction by registered construction professionals and builders, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.

A Certificate of Compliance on Completion is jointly signed by the builder and the assigned certifier. This must be accompanied by plans and documentation to show how the constructed building complies with the building regulations and also the inspection plan, as implemented.

In parallel with the 2014 Regulations, a project is in place in the Local Government Management Agency to improve the effectiveness of the Building Control System. A number of enhancements have been delivered to date and others are in progress, including:

1. To facilitate the consistent implementation of the changes introduced by the 2014 Regulations, the electronic administration of building control functions and to provide a common platform for clear and consistent administration of building control matters across the local authority sector, the Building Control Management System (BCMS) IT system was developed.

2. To standardise work practices, systems, procedures and decision-making in relation to oversight of building control activity across the sector, a “Framework for Building Control Authorities” was developed and first published in September 2014 and revised in June 2016.

3. To further support local building control authorities in their daily activities, a compliance support work stream has been developed. A number of frequently asked questions have been answered through this system.

4. To support staff in building control authorities to carry out their work effectively, training programmes have been developed.

5. To increase the level of meaningful inspections of building activity, a BCMS module is currently being developed to collect data at commencement, which will further inform building control staff in planning risk based targeted inspections.

The Local Government Management Agency is working towards encapsulating all these work streams into a centralised structure for the governance and oversight of Building Control. This structure will ultimately be a shared service embedded in a lead local authority.

At the end of May 2017, the Government approved the draft heads of a Bill to place the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing and the Bill was referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, and Local Government for pre-legislative scrutiny. I received the Committee’s report on 14 December 2017 and I am considering its recommendations, with a view to progressing the drafting as soon as possible.

Once it is enacted, the Bill will provide consumers who engage a registered builder with the assurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator and will complement the reforms which have been made through the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations and contribute to the development of a culture of competence and compliance in the construction sector.

With regard to timber framed construction, in accordance with the recommendations of the Timber Frame Housing Report, a standard in relation to timber frame construction was developed. Irish Standard 440: 2009/A1:2014 Timber Frame Construction, Dwellings and other Buildings (I.S. 440) specifies requirements for materials, design, manufacture, construction details, site work and quality control for platform timber frame construction. It requires that the responsibilities for the tasks involved in the planning, structural design, site erection and inspection be agreed and recorded prior to the commencement of each project. I.S. 440 also gives specific details relating to fire, including the construction of separating walls, horizontal and vertical fire stopping, cavity barriers and detailed fire stopping junctions for walls and floors and service penetrations.

I understand that I.S. 440 is currently under review, and it is intended that both external and party wall new constructions and methods will be included in the next revision of the document. Manufacturers of timber frame buildings are assessed under an approval scheme operated by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) for compliance with I.S. 440 requirements including Factory Production Control (FPC) and a register of compliant manufacturers is available on the NSAI website at https://www.nsai.ie/Our-Services/Certification/Company-Registration-Search.aspx.

It should also be noted that my Department has recently issued guidance on Timber Frame Walls, which have been tested to the European fire test standard and meet the performance set down in Technical Guidance Document B (TGD B) for external and separating walls in dwellings. This has been transmitted to all registered users of the Building Control Management System and to all Building Control Authorities.

In relation to fire safety, work has been on-going to review TGD B – Fire Safety (2006) and a new Part B/ TGD B Volume 2 (2017) came into force on 1 July 2017. This Volume 2 applies to dwelling houses only. Important revisions in the TGD B Volume 2 include enhanced provision for fire detection and alarm systems in dwelling houses, guidance on fire safety in community dwelling houses, guidance on timber frame construction, including new provisions in respect of timber frame party walls, enhanced provisions in respect of loft conversions, new provisions for galleries in dwelling houses and other general updates. A revised Volume 1 is being prepared for public consultation.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (742)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

742. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his Department's policy on and the progress being made to establish a national construction and development corporation to deliver social and affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9634/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The statutory responsibility for the delivery of social and affordable housing, including the ongoing maintenance of social housing stock, is a matter for the local authority sector. I have no plans to change this at this time, given the fact that the sector is successfully delivering social housing in support of the targets set down under Rebuilding Ireland. This was evident in the Social Housing Output indicative figures published last month, showing that nearly 26,000 households had their social housing need met in 2017.

I expect 2018 to be another strong year for the delivery of social homes, while the introduction this year of the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, the Affordable Purchase Scheme and the Affordable Rental Scheme will see important advances in these areas. The Affordable Purchase Scheme will see affordable homes built initially on State land, in co-operation with local authorities. With the Affordable Rental Scheme, a pilot project is being undertaken with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and an Approved Housing Body (AHB), using publicly-owned land. To further assist in this work, I announced following my review of Rebuilding Ireland, that Minister of State Damien English will lead a new delivery team in my Department working with local authorities and AHBs on social housing delivery. This will further add to the impetus already in place for the delivery of much needed social housing homes across the country, by local authorities and AHBs.

These initiatives being advanced with local authorities as well as AHBs further illustrate that the model we now have is delivering across the key thematic areas of social and affordable housing in line with the objectives under Rebuilding Ireland. Accordingly, the establishment of a new delivery structure is unnecessary.

There remains further significant potential for the delivery of social and affordable homes from the State's land bank. While I am continuing to work with the local authority Chief Executives on this, I have established a dedicated Residential Land Management and Development Group to oversee this important work.

From a longer-term strategic perspective, as part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government announced on 16 February its intention to establish a new National Regeneration and Development Agency, which will have a role in managing the State's wider publicly-owned land bank to ensure that overall development needs, including housing, are met. The new Agency will work closely with local authorities, Government Departments, and other State and semi-State bodies to secure the best use of public lands and ensure the delivery on the objectives of the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (743)

Brian Stanley

Question:

743. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of new builds of local authority housing units that were completed in 2017 by county. [9670/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Through the supports made available from my Department under Rebuilding Ireland, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through new construction projects, the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments and through working with approved housing bodies under a range of delivery options.

Provisional details on social housing delivery in 2017 were published on 15 January 2018 and are available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/ri_report_housing_completions_2017.pdf .

Page 2 of the report shows indicatively that 2,245 social homes were delivered through the build programmes encompassing local authority and approved housing body construction and new social homes built through the Part V mechanism. This is further broken down as follows:

Local authorities build (inc. standard construction projects, turnkey construction, rapid build and regeneration)

1,058

Approved Housing Bodies build

799

Home delivered through Part V arrangements

388

A breakdown of these numbers across all local authority areas for 2017 will be published on my Department's website following completion of the necessary validation process which is currently underway. In the meantime, validated data in respect of delivery up to the end of quarter 3 of 2017 is published and available at the following link on my Department's website: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision .

Coastal Zone Management

Questions (744)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

744. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to parliamentary Question No. 611 of 20 February 2018, the extent of the area of the County Clare coastline that is under consideration to be included in the proposed harvesting licence. [9672/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The application in question includes an area of Clare Coastline from the Clare/Galway border around to Rinn Point in Ballyvaghan Bay.

Housing Issues

Questions (745)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

745. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has satisfied himself regarding the adequacy of resources available to his Department to deal with the consequences of the housing crisis (details supplied); his plans to introduce the extra supports required to deal with this ongoing issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8417/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Instances of households, who were previously homeowners, presenting to homeless services following mortgage arrears and repossession of the family home are extremely rare. 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 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 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.

Where households do end up residing in emergency accommodation, for whatever reason, there are a range of services available to families during the duration of their stay, as well as supports to assist such households secure new independent tenancies. Long-term housing needs will be met through a range of social housing supports, including the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and general social housing allocations. Progress is being made in this regard and during 2017, over 4,000 adults that were homeless, or at risk of homelessness, entered into sustainable independent tenancies.

In this regard, I recently notified housing authorities of the availability of exchequer funding to support a new initiative to exit homeless individuals and households from emergency accommodation. It is now open to housing authorities to implement a ‘place-finder’ service, similar to that which has been operating successfully in Cork and Dublin. This service will provide assistance to homeless households to secure a HAP tenancy. Place-finder services will assist such households to seek out properties in the rented sector that are suited to the household’s particular needs and will provide access to deposits and advance rental payments.

Rental Sector

Questions (746)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

746. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by persons renting private properties that have been given notice to vacate and the lack of options persons in this predicament face in view of the volatile market and lack of social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9778/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

A number of measures have been introduced in recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants. Security of tenure provisions under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 apply once a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of 6 months, with no notice of termination having been served during that time. Section 34 provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served, in line with those set out in section 34 of the Act.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Acts to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Section 56 of the Act provides that, where there is an abuse of the termination procedure in section 34, a tenant may bring a complaint to the RTB on the basis that they have been unjustly deprived of possession of a dwelling by their landlord. Further information from the RTB is available at www.rtb.ie/tenants and through the RTB helpline - Lo-call on 0818 30 30 37 (mobile operators may charge a premium rate to the Lo-call number) or 01 702 8100 - available from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 6.30pm.

The so-called ‘Tyrrelstown amendment', included in the 2016 Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, already limits the ability of landlords to use the grounds of sale to terminate tenancies, provided for in section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act. Where a landlord proposes to sell 10 or more units within a single development at the same time, that sale will now be subject to the existing tenants remaining in situ, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015, enacted on 4 December 2015, provided that notice periods for the termination of further Part 4 tenancies, i.e. tenancies that extended beyond 4 years, be extended pro rata in line with the length of the tenancy, subject to caps of 224 days for termination by landlords and 112 days for terminations by tenants (previously 112 days for landlords and 56 days for tenants).

Furthermore, the Strategy for the Rental Sector, published in December 2016, recognises rapidly increasing rent prices as the most significant challenge to security of tenure in the rental sector at present. Where tenants cannot afford their rents, their tenancies are not secure and evictions for non-payment of rent may ensue.

To address this, the Government introduced, through the 2016 Act, the concept of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to moderate the rate of rent increases in those areas of the country where rents are highest and rising quickly. The 2016 Act also gave effect to other actions to address tenants’ security, including the abolition of a landlord’s right, during the first 6 months of a further Part 4 tenancy, to end that tenancy for no stated ground, and the extension of the term of Part 4 tenancies from 4 to 6 years.

In September 2017, as part of the review of the Rent Predictability Measures, I announced a series of further measures in relation to the rental sector, including a two-year change plan to develop and strengthen the role of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), particularly with regard to enforcement.

With regard to social housing supply, the Government has made housing a top priority and, through the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, has a framework in place to deliver an increase and acceleration in the supply of high quality housing, including social and affordable homes, particularly in the major urban areas where demand is greatest.

Rebuilding Ireland contains a suite of actions that will increase housing construction and refurbishment. Under Pillar 2 of the Action Plan, 50,000 new social homes will be delivered by 2021, supported by €6 billion in exchequer funding. Of these, 33,500 homes will be provided through direct construction and refurbishment and as of Quarter 3 of 2017, there were over 12,000 new homes in the social housing construction pipeline, including those on site or recently completed, and this is being added to on a weekly basis. I expect to provide a further update on social housing construction activity in the coming weeks.

Rent Pressure Zones

Questions (747)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

747. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that the rent pressure zones are working adequately to tackle the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9779/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 24A of the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 sets out the procedure for the Minister to prescribe, by order, an area as a Rent Pressure Zone. It provides that the Housing Agency, in consultation with the relevant housing authority, may make a written proposal to the Minister that an identified area be prescribed as a Rent Pressure Zone. Within 1 week of receipt of such a proposal, the Minister shall request the Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to furnish him, within 2 weeks, with a report on whether the proposed area satisfies the criteria specified in subsection 24A(4) for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone.

The criteria to be satisfied by an area under section 24A(4) of the Residential Tenancies Acts for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone are as follows:

(a) the information relating to the area, as determined by reference to the information used to compile each quarterly RTB Rent Index report, shows that the annual rate of increase in the average amount of rent for that area is more than 7% in each of at least 4 of the 6 quarters, preceding the period immediately prior to the date of the Housing Agency's proposal.

(b) the average rent for the area in the last quarter, as determined by reference to the information used to compile the RTB Rent Index, is above the average national rent (commonly referred to as the Rent Index national standardised rent) in the last quarter.

The Housing Agency will continue to monitor the rental market and may recommend further areas for designation. Where, following the procedures set out in the Act, it is found at a future date that additional areas meet the criteria, they will be designated as Rent Pressure Zones.

The RTB's news page link in relation to its Rent Index - https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/news/latest-data-from-rtb-quarterly-rent-index-q3-2017/ - provides access to the most recent RTB Rent Index quarterly report (for Q3 2017) and summarises its key findings. Information is also provided as part of the RTB's education and awareness campaign relating to Rent Pressure Zones.

Table 9 in the RTB Rent Index report illustrates the recent rent changes at Local Electoral Area (LEA) level. The table outlines for each LEA the number of quarters within the last 6 Quarters where the annualised rent increases have been greater than or equal to 7% and how rent levels in each LEA compares to the Rent Index national standardised rent.

In September 2017, as part of the review of the Rent Predictability Measures, I announced a series of measures in relation to the rental sector, including a two-year change plan to develop and strengthen the role of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), particularly with regard to enforcement.

Charging rents above those permitted by the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 will become an offence and the RTB will be provided with the required powers of enforcement so that it will no longer be solely up to the tenant to initiate a dispute. A landlord will be required to notify the RTB of any exemption claimed from the rent increase limits and the RTB will be empowered to take follow up enforcement action, if required. These changes will strengthen the impact of the Rent Predictability Measure and will further slow the growth in rents. These enhanced enforcement procedures to be introduced in 2018 will reform the Rent Pressure Zone mechanism to deliver a more effective and transparent approach to its operation.

The Government has given priority to the drafting and early publication of a Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill to address this and other urgent issues in the rental sector.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (748)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

748. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to extend the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme in view of demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9780/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, a new loan offering - the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan - was introduced on 1 February 2018.

Funding of €200 million for the new Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan has been raised by the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) on a fixed rate basis for periods out to thirty years maturity. Based on the pricing achieved, local authorities can offer a first tranche of fixed-rate annuity finance to eligible borrowers at rates of 2.0% and 2.25% per annum, for terms of up to twenty five and thirty years respectively, up to an aggregate maximum of €200 million.

As the available funding under the first tranche reduces towards €50 million, the HFA will access new funding at the prevailing rates in the market and will make available a second tranche to local authorities which will be accessed once the first tranche is fully advanced.