A range of housing options are necessary to ensure a supply of accommodation to meet different types of social housing need. Harnessing the off-balance sheet potential of private investment in social housing is an important contributor to meeting this objective and the social housing targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland over the period to 2021 reflect the ambition in that regard. Of the 50,000 social housing homes to be delivered under Rebuilding Ireland, 10,000 will be leased by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) under leasing arrangements from a range of different sources and funded under the Department’s Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP). The leasing programme secures properties from a wide range of lessors and through the various leasing schemes.
High quality secure properties, which represent value for money and are available on a long-term basis, are being targeted by local authorities around the country to accommodate people on local authority waiting lists. The Government has increased significantly the delivery expected from local authorities through their social housing build programme, but it remains the case that more homes can be provided through leasing than could reasonably be expected to be delivered under construction and acquisition programmes alone. In addition, the cost of delivering social housing units under the traditional construction and acquisition model is not adequately captured by the up-front capital expenditure as each unit will carry a stream of ongoing costs over the long-term including management, maintenance and remediation. Furthermore, during the term of the lease, the responsibility for structural matters remains with the property owner and not the local authority. At the end of the lease term, the dwelling can require major renovation or upgrading resulting in a substantial capital cost, which under leasing is borne by the owner rather than the local authority.
The Government is committed to increasing the supply of social housing and a primary focus continues to be the construction of new social housing homes. However, it is important that local authorities have the capacity to respond to local residential property markets and that they have the tools to provide a range of accommodation types in all of the areas where social housing need arises.