Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 962 answered with Question No. 73.

Questions (961)

James Browne

Question:

961. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an adjudged bankrupt that has lost all property in bankruptcy proceedings and subsequently arranged their divorce or legal separation can avail of the first-time buyers Rebuilding Ireland home loan mortgage, despite previously owning property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23367/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme enables credit-worthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range, where they cannot obtain sufficient mortgage finance from a commercial lender. 

As with the previous local authority loan offerings, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is available to first-time buyers only. This is set out in the regulations governing the Scheme and ensures the effective targeting of limited resources. 

A person who has been discharged from bankruptcy and is eligible in all other respects, including being a first-time buyer, for a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan may apply for a loan and will be subject to the same credit assessment process that applies to all applicants, which is carried out in accordance with the credit policy for the scheme.

Applicants who are separated or divorced may be treated as first-time buyers, in accordance with the regulations, if they meet certain conditions, including: 

- they are separated or divorced under a court order or by a separation agreement;

- the property being purchased is the first property since leaving the family home;

- they have left the family home and retain no interest in it; or

- the other party has remained in the family home.

In meeting the conditions as set out above, in particular that the other party has remained in the family home and that the potential applicant has relinquished any rights they had over that property, no financial gain should have been made by the potential applicant in exchange for relinquishing their rights to the property in this manner. Were the individual to have made a financial gain in releasing their rights to the property, such as being bought out by the other party who remains resident in it, they would be deemed to have been compensated for their interest in the property, and therefore not be eligible as a first-time buyer.

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for the relevant local authority and its credit committee on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the Regulations establishing the scheme and the credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency in approaches in the best interests of both borrowers and the lending local authorities.   

Question No. 962 answered with Question No. 73.

Register of Electors

Question No. 964 answered with Question No. 946.

Questions (963)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

963. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for more effective compiling of the Register of Electors; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the system of assembling the register is perceived to be not working effectively and that other more modern mechanisms for inputting electors must be examined in line with other European countries; if public consultation on the matter will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23385/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government previously decided that work should commence on modernisation of the voter registration process in the context of the possible need to register voters resident outside the State in the event that a proposed referendum on extending the franchise for Presidential elections is passed. 

The project will include consideration of wider policy and legislative changes, including initiatives such as online registration. It is expected that the online facility will enable individuals to manage their own information, such as amending their address details. There is an initial focus on a series of proposals made by the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht in its report on the consultation it carried out on the proposed Electoral Commission in 2016.  

In addition, a pilot project called Voter.ie took place in the four Dublin local areas prior to the recent local and European elections.  This involved a new online web portal enabling over 1 million Dublin residents to check their electoral details in real-time.  Voters who are signed up to MyGovID were able to check if they were eligible to vote and amend some of their electoral details on the register in real-time (prior to the cut-off date for registration for an election or referendum). 

Following an initial consultation with franchise electoral registration teams in local authorities, which was completed in September 2018, a public consultation on the modernisation process was launched on 17 December 2018 and  closed on 15 March 2019.  A total of 187 submissions were received from a range of individuals, public representatives, local authorities, political parties and community and voluntary and business organisations. These submissions are now being examined and details of the consultation are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/public-consultation-proposals-modernise-electoral-registration-process.

Following the consideration of all submissions received during the public consultation and a review with the Dublin local authorities of the voter.ie portal's impact on register management in Dublin during the recent polls, my Department will progress a national project to modernise the registration process. It is expected that this project, which will include the procurement of an IT system and primary legislation, will take approximately two years to complete.

Question No. 964 answered with Question No. 946.

Approved Housing Bodies

Questions (965)

Alan Kelly

Question:

965. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to cases in which an approved housing body has bid on a property or properties in competition with a local authority thereby elevating the purchase price; if so, if a list of such cases will be provided; the steps he is taking to coordinate such activity in order to protect the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23474/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities are the statutory housing authorities for their areas and, in that capacity, they are responsible for co-ordinating all social housing activity and should ensure that competition in the pursuit of acquisition opportunities for new social housing by the various delivery bodies, including the authority itself and approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), does not arise. 

I am not aware of the types of cases that the Deputy refers to and I believe that, in general, good co-operation exists locally, between authorities and AHBs. 

The AHB Forum, which was set up under Rebuilding Ireland, and which is chaired by the Housing Agency, brings together my Department, the local government sector and AHB representatives.   The Forum's work involves identifying and disseminating best practice for a co-operative approach in support of strong, local housing delivery, including communications locally to avoid competition between delivery bodies.

I am confident that local authorities and AHBs will continue to work together locally in order to ensure value for money, as well as the accelerated delivery of social housing.  However, I will ensure that the issue raised by the Deputy is brought to the next meeting of the AHB Forum, in order to remind local authorities and AHBs of the need to ensure that it does not arise, in practice.

Pyrite Panel Report Implementation

Questions (966)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

966. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of the proposed MICA redress scheme; the date in 2019 from which homes will begin to be repaired under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23520/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 45 on today's Order Paper.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (967)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

967. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the expected timetable for the commencement of each individual section or provision of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019. [23525/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

On 30  May 2019 I signed  the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2019. This Order appoints 31 May 2019 and 4 June 2019 as the dates on which specified provisions of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 come into effect. The Order is available on the Irish Statute Book website, at the following link: www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2019/si/236/made/en/print.

The remaining provisions to bring the RTB’s new investigation and sanctioning powers into force and the provisions relating to student-specific accommodation and to short-term letting are planned for commencement in July.

The provisions requiring the annual registration of tenancies are planned for commencement in Q1 2020. Preparations are underway in the RTB to roll out a simple online registration system to cater for annual registration.

Homeless Persons Data

Questions (968)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

968. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons registered homeless by county in tabular form; when they were registered as homeless; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23543/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department publishes a monthly report on homelessness. The monthly report is based on data provided by housing authorities and produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS).  The report captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. Official homeless reports are published on my Department's website on a monthly basis and can be accessed using the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

These reports do not contain data relating to when a person registered as homeless.  While these monthly reports include a breakdown of adults at county level, details in relation to dependants are only available on a regional level in my Department; however, further information in relation to dependants may be obtained from individual housing authorities.

The following table sets out the numbers of adults and dependants in emergency accommodation in April 2019, the most recent month for which data is available.

Region

Dependants (by region only)

Local authority

Adults (by local authority)

Dublin

 2,769

Dublin (DRHE)

4,401

Mid-East

 144

Kildare

170

 

 

Meath

89

 

 

Wicklow

44

Midlands

 79

Laois

22

 

 

Longford

5

 

 

Offaly

59

 

 

Westmeath

36

Mid-West

 139

Clare

74

 

 

Limerick

257

North-East

 42

Cavan

11

 

 

Louth

163

 

 

Monaghan

4

North-West

 22

Donegal

19

 

 

Leitrim

1

 

 

Sligo

28

South-East

 67

Carlow

32

 

 

Kilkenny

56

 

 

Tipperary

45

 

 

Waterford

106

 

 

Wexford

65

South-West

 314

Cork

409

 

 

Kerry

147

West

 218

Galway

302

 

 

Mayo

31

 

 

Roscommon

8

Health and Safety

Questions (969, 970, 971)

Niall Collins

Question:

969. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the specific actions taken and progress made since he indicated that his Department is reviewing its role in relation to the aspects of legislation regarding the regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs and specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment. [23552/19]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

970. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has had discussions with the Health and Safety Authority regarding progress on the review in relation to the aspects of legislation relating to the regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs and specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment. [23553/19]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

971. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the safety certificates his Department has received in respect of funfairs in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23554/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 969 to 971, inclusive, together.

Section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 places a statutory duty on organisers of funfairs and owners of fairground equipment to take such care as is reasonable for ensuring that persons at a funfair do not suffer injury or damage by reason of dangers arising from the funfair or associated activities.  This legislation also requires that the owner of fairground equipment shall not make it available to the public unless such equipment has a valid "certificate of safety". The organiser of a funfair is required to give notice of the event to the relevant local authority and such notice is to be accompanied by a valid "certificate of safety".

My Department initiated a review of the provisions of Section 239 in relation to funfairs, while also considering the issue of public safety at funfairs and theme parks in the context of more general approaches to public safety at events, with a view to learning from other bodies with expertise in these areas, as appropriate. The review of the aspects of legislation relating to regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs in section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, particularly in respect of the specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment, is ongoing and includes an examination of international practice in the area of regulating public safety. My Department has met with key stakeholders as part of this process, including the Health and Safety Authority.

The drafting of the review report has commenced and further engagement with relevant stakeholders is envisaged as part of the process of clarifying issues and preparing the

report's conclusions and recommendations.  

Certificates of Safety are issued by persons authorised in Regulations made under the Planning and Development Act 2000 and are returned annually to my Department in accordance with article 8 (3)(b) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Certification of Fairground Equipment) Regulations 2003.  Certificates for 2019 will be available in 2020. The 2014 - 2018 Certificates received by my Department for funfairs are listed, by county of inspection, in the Table below:

County Inspection Took Place  

2018  

2017  

2016  

2015  

2014  

County Inspection Took Place  

2018  

2017  

2016  

2015  

2014  

Cavan

 

7

8

6

9

Clare

2

 

8

7

6

Cork

9

11

75

107

92

Donegal

26

26

30

28

19

Dublin    

59

76

50

36

41

Galway

17

4

8

11

12

Kerry

 

 

1

5

9

Kildare

14

25

23

28

19

Kilkenny

 

 

2

3

3

Laois

5

4

13

7

4

Limerick

5

6

17

38

36

Louth

10

7

8

9

6

Meath

31

37

34

66

 

Monaghan

3

2

1

3

 

Offaly

33

38

10

20

13

Roscommon

14

13

32

 

 

Tipperary

1

1

1

8

10

Waterford    

57

48

46

42

43

Wexford    

4

3

1

2

 

Wicklow

50

44

4

20

21

Total

 340

352

373

446

343

Election Management System

Questions (972)

John Brady

Question:

972. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of ballot papers by constituency for the local and European elections and the referendum deemed invalid due to the ballot papers not being stamped in polling stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23560/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently compiling the results for the recently held European and local elections and referendum. The information is being compiled based on returns from local returning officers and will be published in due course on my Department's website and will include the information requested in the question.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (973)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

973. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of HAP inspections undertaken to date; the number outstanding beyond the eight month deadline by local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23565/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistant Payment Scheme (HAP) in underpinned by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014. Under section 41 of the 2014 Act, local authorities are required to commence the inspection process within eight months of the commencement of HAP support being provided in relation to a particular dwelling, if the dwelling was not already inspected within the previous 12 months. Local authorities carry out HAP inspections as a subset of their overall private rented inspections programme.

In February of this year, at my Department's request, the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) worked with local authorities to compile data in respect of HAP inspections and the findings of that exercise, including the details sought by the Deputy, are reflected in the table below.

Local Authority

Total Number of   Tenancies

Total Active Number of Tenancies

No of Properties where an Inspection is not due as per legislative requirement (Inside of 8 months)

No of properties where an Inspection is due

Inspection Carried out/Arranged

% of inspections arranged / carried out

Carlow   County Council

935

683

149

534

527

99%

Cavan County Council

341

288

132

156

119

76%

Clare County Council

1,955

1,324

276

1,048

730

70%

Cork City Council

2,218

1,726

413

1,313

881

67%

Cork County Council

4,808

3,738

1,018

2,720

1749

64%

Donegal County Council

2,554

1,714

376

1,338

1,411

105%

Dublin City Council

1,562

1,863

840

1,023

1,206

118%

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

377

371

171

200

193

97%

Fingal County Council

1,675

1,625

791

834

731

88%

Galway City Council

1,408

1,236

378

858

395

46%

Galway County Council

1,347

1,168

408

760

923

121%

Kerry County Council

1,070

940

405

535

598

112%

Kildare County Council

2,431

2,036

581

1,455

435

30%

Kilkenny County Council

1,395

861

196

665

775

117%

Laois County Council

805

695

328

367

449

122%

Leitrim County Council

275

221

103

118

133

113%

Limerick City & County Council

3,078

2,204

465

1,739

2,009

116%

Longford County Council

353

300

156

144

165

115%

Louth County Council

3,351

2,674

859

1,815

1,306

72%

Mayo County Council

1,399

1,131

368

763

497

65%

Meath County Council

2,305

1,912

666

1,246

719

58%

Monaghan County Council

772

530

145

385

459

119%

Offaly County Council

1,094

841

204

637

244

38%

Roscommon County Council

463

388

171

217

168

77%

Sligo County Council

830

660

211

449

406

90%

South Dublin County Council

3,010

2,724

586

2,138

2,001

94%

Tipperary County Council

2,493

1,738

396

1,342

1,432

107%

Waterford City & County Council

2,587

1,845

524

1,321

1,308

99%

Westmeath County Council

732

646

245

401

438

109%

Wexford County Council

1,251

1,058

502

556

395

71%

Wicklow County Council

1,087

998

425

573

261

46%

DRHE

5,687

4,236

1,753

2,483

1,921

77%

Grand Total

55,648

44,374

14,241

30,133

24,984

83%

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (974)

Mick Barry

Question:

974. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the criteria for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme will be changed to include non-first time buyers such as those that may have had their homes repossessed during the recession and that could now be in the financial position to pay back a loan. [23669/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme enables credit-worthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range, where they cannot obtain sufficient mortgage finance from a commercial lender. 

As with the previous local authority loan offerings, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is available to first-time buyers only. This is set out in the regulations governing the Scheme and is designed to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources. 

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for the relevant local authority and its credit committee on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the Regulations establishing the scheme and the credit policy, that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency in approaches in the best interests of both borrowers and the lending local authorities.   

Local Authority Staff Data

Questions (975)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

975. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of additional staff he has provided to councils to enforce the new short-term letting planning regulations which come into effect on 1 July 2019. [23737/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Planning and Development (Exempted Development) (No.2) Regulations 2019 amend the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, to provide that development involving a change of use relating to home sharing and limited short-term letting in a principal private residence in a rent pressure zone is exempt from the requirement to obtain planning permission, subject to compliance with specified notification requirements to local planning authorities.  The 2019 Regulations will come into effect from 1 July 2019, concurrent with the commencement of the underpinning of the primary legislative provisions in the recently enacted Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.

Under the new arrangements, home sharing will continue to be permissible for a person’s principal private residence on an unrestricted basis. In addition, an annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out on a short-term basis of a person's entire home where it is their principal private residence, with such short-term lets being restricted to periods of 14 days or less at a time. Where the 90 day threshold is exceeded, change of use planning permission will be required.

Furthermore, where a person owns a property that is not their principal private residence and intends to let it for short-term letting purposes, they will also be required to apply for a change of use planning permission unless the property already has a specific planning permission to be used for tourism or short-term letting purposes. It will be up to each local planning authority to consider such applications, having regard to guidance that will issue from my Department, taking account of housing demand pressures in the area concerned and other relevant factors such as cumulative impacts.

The new arrangements are being introduced through the planning code and each planning authority’s enforcement unit will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing these new requirements. The existing corps of planning authority enforcement officers will be mandated with enforcing the new provisions from 1 July next and will be supplemented by dedicated additional resources. Additional funding will be provided to support planning authority enforcement of the new short-term letting arrangements and my Department is engaging with the relevant planning authorities in this regard.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (976)

Brian Stanley

Question:

976. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the figures for Rebuilding Ireland home loan approvals to date in counties Laois and Offaly; the number of applications pending; and if funding is available to fund those that may be approved. [23744/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses loan applications that are made to the local authorities for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants. The most recent data available from the Housing Agency for Laois and Offaly as at the end of May 2019 is included in the below table:

HA Stats from Feb 1 2018 to end May 2019

 

 

Local Authority

Applications Examined  

Recommended to Approve

Laois County Council

93

50

Offaly County Council

45

18

My Department does not collate data on the number of applications pending.

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency in order to enable its continuation.

My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to the amount of a second tranche, which I anticipate, will be finalised soon. When these discussions are concluded I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter.  Ahead of such an announcement, the operation of the scheme is not affected; the scheme remains open and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

Energy Schemes

Questions (977)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

977. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when funding and approval will be given to Donegal County Council for phase 2 of a programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23766/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Energy Efficiency/Retrofitting Programme was launched in 2013 to improve the insulation standards and overall energy performance of the local authority social housing stock. The programme is being implemented in two phases: Phase 1 provides funding targeted at the less intrusive cavity wall/attic insulation, while Phase 2 focuses on fabric upgrade works to dwellings with solid/hollow block wall construction and includes the provision of heating upgrades. 

Since the programme commenced, over 68,000 social homes have been retrofitted, with a total exchequer spend of some €128 million.  For 2019, a further €25 million is being made available to local authorities under the programme and allocations for this year will be issuing to local authorities shortly.  It should be noted that it is the responsibility of local authorities to identify and prioritise properties for inclusion in the programme.