The oversight and management of housing waiting lists, including the allocation and transfer of tenancies, is a matter for the relevant local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations.
Section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households.
A household may apply for support to one local authority only, which may be the authority for the area in which the household normally resides or with which it has a local connection, or that the authority agrees, at its discretion, to assess the household for support.
It should be noted that a household meeting either the residence or local connection condition may specify up to three areas of choice for receipt of support in the areas of all local authorities in the county and city concerned and, if qualified, will be entered on the housing waiting list of each of those local authorities. Accordingly, under existing arrangements, a household that applies, for example, to Dublin City Council can, if qualified for support and should they choose to do so, be entered on the waiting list of three of the four local authorities in Dublin city and county.
All four Dublin authorities have provisions in their allocation schemes for inter authority/mutual transfers for sitting tenants whereby the authority is prepared to accommodate applications for inter authority/mutual transfers provided certain criteria are met. All four Dublin authorities also make provision in their allocation schemes for households wishing to move to a home more suitable to their household needs. However, decisions on all applications are entirely a matter for the local authority concerned.
Furthermore, a commitment has been given to examine the possibility of introducing a “housing passport”. The basic premise is that households in receipt of, or qualified for, social housing support in one local authority area could potentially transfer to, or be allocated, social housing in another local authority area. This will offer more flexibility and choice to social housing applicants and tenants on a national basis. I am currently finalising proposals in relation to this matter. It is my intention to bring forward any proposed changes needed to implement the housing passport proposal to Government as part of a comprehensive social housing reform package of measures in the near future. A key aim of the package will be to ensure that social housing supports are more responsive and flexible to the varying needs that exist at different stages of the life cycle of a social housing tenant. The issue raised by the Deputy in respect of tenants wishing to right-size clearly falls within this broader policy objective.
In the context of older people, my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health, published a joint policy statement, Housing Options for our Ageing Population, on 27 February 2019, which builds on policy as outlined in Rebuilding Ireland and the National Planning Framework 2040. The statement sets out forty actions which the two Departments want to progress with a view to developing new models of housing and supports for older people. These include options in relation to rightsizing in both public and private housing. An independently chaired implementation group is working to drive progress on the actions and to ensure that there is an integrated approach to their development over the timescales set out in the statement.