Fire Safety Regulations

Questions (753)

Bríd Smith

Question:

753. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an apartment built in 1997, which complied with fire safety regulations at the time, is now obliged to upgrade its fire alarm systems in order to comply with 2013 regulations. [52916/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The design and construction of buildings is regulated under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014. The building regulations set the minimum performance requirements that a building must achieve, to provide for the health, safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. The building regulations apply to the design and construction of a building, material alterations or extensions of a building, provision of certain services, fittings and equipment and the material change of use of a building. The requirements of the building regulations are set out in 12 parts classified as Parts A to M. Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) provide guidance on how to comply with the building regulations in practical terms. Where works are carried out in accordance with the guidance, this will, prima facie, indicate compliance with the requirements of the building regulations.

Part B/TGD B of the building regulations deals with Fire Safety.  Part B approaches fire safety in buildings from 5 perspectives;

- the provision of a satisfactory means of escape for people in the event of a fire;

- the limiting of fire spread over internal linings;

- the stability of buildings in the event of a fire; 

- the limiting of fire spread over external surfaces and to another building; and

- the provision of access and facilities for firefighters.

Construction of buildings, and alterations or changes of use to existing buildings, should comply with the requirements of Building Regulations.  Responsibility for compliance lies with those designing and constructing buildings and building works.  

In general, buildings which when completed complied with the requirements of Building Regulations, are not required to be altered or upgraded to comply with requirements subsequently introduced, unless the use of the building is materially changed, and the new use attracts new requirements. 

Where new works involving material alterations or extensions are carried out to a building, those new works should meet the requirements of the Building Regulations current at the time of the new works or extensions.  

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Building Control Acts, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, to ensure that parties discharge their statutory responsibilities.

Fire services inspect buildings in cases of defects or complaints in respect of fire safety.  They work with building owners to ensure that immediate risks are addressed and that a plan is put in place, where required, for works to bring buildings into compliance. Local authorities are independent in carrying out these functions.  

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Questions (754)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

754. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount paid out in Cork city and county under the HAP scheme since its commencement to date by municipal district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52971/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals.  At the end of Q3 2019, nearly 67,000 HAP tenancies had been set-up since the scheme commenced, of which there were more than 50,000 households actively in receipt of HAP support and over 29,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme. 

Limerick City and County Council provides a highly effective HAP transactional shared service on behalf of all local authorities. This HAP Shared Services Centre (SSC) manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.  Accordingly, my Department does not recoup individual local authorities in respect of HAP rental payments in their administrative areas but rather recoups all landlord cost via the HAP SSC.

HAP commenced in Cork City in June 2015 and in Cork County in September 2014. The total number of active HAP tenancies at the end of Q3 2019 in Cork City was 2,658 and 3,383 in Cork County. Details of  HAP tenancies setup and average landlord payments in each year 2014 to 2019  for Cork City and County are set out in the table below:

Year

New Tenancies  set up Cork City (per year)

Average Landlord Payment Cork City

New Tenancies setup Cork County (per year)

Average Landlord Payments Cork County

2014

  -

 -

66

 Not Available

2015

114

 Not   available

887

 Not available

2016

941

€647

1050

€629

2017

814

€722

1198

€689

2018

694

€764

1135

€727

2019 Q3

897

€801

447

€741

My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review, which I consider to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under Rebuilding Ireland.  

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 756 answered with Question No. 732.

Question No. 757 answered with Question No. 731.

Questions (755)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

755. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of applications made in Cork city and county by municipal area under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the number of applications approved in these areas since the programme commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52972/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Housing Agency recommendations are then considered by the Credit Committee in each local authority, which issues loan approvals.

I asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of valid applications that it has assessed and recommended for approval for Cork City Council and Cork County Council since the scheme begun.  From 1 February 2018 to the end of November 2019, the Housing Agency assessed 229 applications in Cork City and of these, it recommended 78 for approval.  The Housing Agency assessed 432 applications in Cork County from 1 February 2018 to the end of November 2019, and of these 217 were recommended for approval. 

My Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Local authority approval means that an official letter of offer has been sent to a borrower (and therefore relates to a specific property and loan amount).  Information for Quarters 1 and 2 2019, including in relation to the number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on my Department's website at the following link: 

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

 

Question No. 756 answered with Question No. 732.
Question No. 757 answered with Question No. 731.

Approved Housing Bodies

Questions (758)

Brendan Smith

Question:

758. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to enable tenants of voluntary housing bodies to purchase their homes similar to the tenant purchase scheme for local authority tenants in view of the fact the housing provided by the voluntary housing bodies is funded principally by the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53125/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015, provide the basis for the current Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme, which came into operation on 1 January 2016, which allows local authorities to sell local authority owned dwellings to existing social housing tenants. The Scheme does not extend to houses owned by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) as the ownership of these properties remains with the AHB concerned.

Under the terms of the various funding schemes supporting the delivery of social housing by AHBs, AHBs are the legal owners of the properties and must make them available for social renting for the duration of the mortgage or, as the case may be, the availability agreement. My Department cannot unilaterally make provision for their sale to tenants. Any such decision would have to involve the AHB and have regard to the mortgage on the property. On expiry of the mortgage period and subject to compliance with the terms of the funding agreement, the AHB becomes the owner of the property.

However, Section 45 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 does provide for the sale by local authorities and AHBs of designated new houses to eligible households, subject to specified terms and conditions set down in the Act and associated Regulations (The Housing (Incremental Purchase) Regulations 2010- S.I 252 of 2010). However, any such sales would have to be progressed by the AHBs in conjunction with the relevant local authority concerned. Neither my Department or myself has any role in the process.

There are currently no plans to introduce a general  tenant purchase scheme, analogous to the 2015 Scheme in operation for local authority tenants, for tenants of houses owned by AHBs.  

Approved Housing Bodies

Questions (759)

Brendan Smith

Question:

759. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of homes provided in each local authority area in each of the years 2011 to 2018 by voluntary housing bodies; the funding provided to the sector on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53126/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Approved Housing Bodies play an increasingly integral role in the delivery of social homes across the country. Over the period 2011 to 2018 more than 11,000 new social homes have been delivered by Approved Housing Bodies and last year 38% of all the social homes delivered by the Rebuilding Ireland were delivered in partnership with Approved Housing Bodies. 

As delivery has grown so too has the range of delivery mechanisms utilised by AHBs to deliver social homes. Detailed statistics in relation to the number of social housing homes that have been delivered by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS),  Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF), AHB Mortgage to Rent Scheme (MTR) and Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP), are published and available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordable/overall-social-housing-provision.  

Specifically in relation to the number of social housing homes provided by AHBs, the table below provides details of additional AHB delivery across all delivery streams over the period 2011 to 2018.  

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total additional AHB units delivered- all delivery streams

860

886

385

896

1,316 

1,169 

2,330 

3,228

The funding for these AHB delivery schemes is provided by my Department directly to the local authorities which, in turn, provide the funding to AHBs as appropriate. 

Output by AHBs has almost quadrupled over the period 2011 to 2018 and funding to AHBs has tripled over the same period, from €103.16m in 2011 to 337.69m in 2018.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total Annual AHB Funding

€103.13m 

€138.09m 

€118.01m 

€104.87m 

€148.54m 

€154.77m 

€228.73m 

€337.69m 

Local Authority Housing Funding

Questions (760, 761)

Brendan Smith

Question:

760. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided to Cavan County Council in each of the years 2011 to 2018 for the purchase and construction of houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53127/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

761. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided to Monaghan County Council in each of the years 2011 to 2018 for the purchase and construction of houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53128/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 760 and 761 together.

The funding provided to Cavan County Council and Monaghan County Council under the main Local Authority Capital Programme for the construction and acquisition of social housing in each year for the period 2011 to 2018 is set out in the table below.

LA

2011€m

2012€m

2013€m

2014€m

2015€m

2016€m

2017€m

2018€m

Total€m

Cavan

1.033

1.240

1.980

1.504

1.922

1.646

3.851

6.864

20.04

Monaghan

2.968

1.650

1.160

0.950

2.218

5.223

12.225

8.389

34.78

My Department also provides funding to local authorities for the delivery of social housing in association with Approved Housing Bodies, through large-scale regeneration programmes and returning vacant stock back to productive use. Funding is also provided by my Department for social housing improvement work programmes and to support households within their existing housing.

Overall, in the period 2011 to 2018, my Department provided €62.7 million to Cavan County Council and €76.7 million to Monaghan County Council for the delivery of housing programmes.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Grants

Questions (762)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

762. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to increase the maximum value of the grant available under the individual domestic well grant scheme in the near future; his views on whether the increase in the cost of the works covered by the scheme should be reflected in the grants available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53144/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Earlier this year I announced details of the new Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021.  This included an improved funding scheme for individual wells.  The changes to this scheme demonstrate the Government's strong commitment to supporting this critically important resource and are as follows:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000 (which represents an increase of 47% on the current maximum grant amount), or where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well, a maximum grant €5,000.

- Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water treatment element (typically filtration and UV filtration) will qualify for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000.

- Up to 85% of other costs would be met, subject to the total combined maximum costs of €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well. 

I expect that the necessary Regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters will be put in place shortly and this will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter. 

Electoral Reform

Questions (763)

Malcolm Byrne

Question:

763. Deputy Malcolm Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider introducing or supporting legislation to provide for a reduction in the voting for the local elections in 2024 further to the decision of the Citizens’ Assembly to recommend reducing the voting age to 16 years of age. [53155/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended in its report on The Manner in which Referenda are held & Fixed Term Parliaments (June 2018) that the voting age should be lowered to 16 years as a means to increase voter turnout at elections.  While the Assembly voted by 80% in favour of a reduction in the voting age, it is noted that the report did not specify the election or elections to which a reduced voting age would apply although the Citizens’ Assembly did briefly refer to the deliberations of the Convention of the Constitution in this matter.

Against this background, the Convention on the Constitution examined this issue extensively and in line with the majority opinion of its members, the First Report of the Convention on the Constitution, which was published in March 2013, recommended that a referendum be held to amend the Constitution to reduce the voting age to 16 years of age.  The Convention also considered whether the voting age should be reduced for some types of elections only (e.g., local elections).  The majority view (68%) of the Convention did not support a reduction in the voting age for specific types of elections only. 

While the Government has accepted the recommendation from the Convention and is committed to the holding of a referendum to reduce the voting age to 16 years across all elections, no decision has been taken at this point in time on a date for the holding of the referendum.

Local Government Reform

Questions (764)

Malcolm Byrne

Question:

764. Deputy Malcolm Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the powers devolved from central Government to local government since he came to office; and the powers removed from local authorities in the same period. [53156/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Government policy on local government reform was set out in the 2012 policy document Putting People First, Action Programme for Local Government which committed to strengthening the role of local government and providing for a wider range of suitable functions. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provided for inter alia a refocusing of the role of local government on economic, social and community development and for the functions of a number of government departments and State bodies to be devolved to local authorities.

Local government has direct functional relationships with several Government Departments covering a wide range of policy and operational areas. In the context of those areas for which my Department has direct responsibility, local authority powers have been significantly varied in two instances since my appointment as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government on 14 June 2017.

In the first instance, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 enabled planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination instead of going to local planning authorities. This change took effect on 3 July 2017.

In the second instance, the Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 that was enacted in July 2019 contains a number of new powers for local authorities in respect of the levying and collection of rates.  In particular, local authorities can make locally targeted Rates Alleviation Schemes.

Looking to potential further devolution of powers to local government, the work currently underway in my Department on the establishment of a directly elected Mayor with executive functions in Limerick is examining the potential of the role into the future and possible extra functions that the Mayor and/or the elected Council could take on.   

To that end on 2 December 2019, I with the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, launched an Implementation Advisory Group, independently chaired and comprising representatives of the elected Council, the Executive and the main stakeholders in Limerick to report to me by June 2020 on how best to establish and shape the role of directly elected Mayor for Limerick.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Questions (765)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

765. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an income guidelines review for social housing is underway; if so, when an outcome is likely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53172/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, and the universal social charge.  The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature.

At present, the Household Means Policy is being reviewed as part of a broader package of social housing reform measures, which I intend to bring to Government in the near future.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (766, 767, 768)

Pat Deering

Question:

766. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Part 8 schemes commenced in each local authority area by county in each year since 2016, in tabular form; the number of housing units on each site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53176/19]

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Pat Deering

Question:

767. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of hectares each local authority owns that is zoned for housing, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53177/19]

View answer

Pat Deering

Question:

768. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of sites each local authority has available to it for housing; the number of sites that have Part 8 planning processes proceeding; the number of units each site represents, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53178/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 766 to 768, inclusive, together.

As Part 8 type developments are exempt from planning permission, my Department does not collate statistics in this regard.  In order to obtain this information, individual local authorities should be contacted directly. 

In the first instance, it is a matter for each local authority and its elected members to agree the optimal approach with regard to the development, the financing and the zoning of its land bank. Moreover, local authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way to ensure that long-term strategic housing needs are met across all types and tenures within their functional area in both urban and rural locations.

Notwithstanding this, my Department has been working closely with all local authorities, to ensure that new social and affordable homes can be delivered from the public land bank, with particular emphasis on prioritising those sites with the greatest potential to deliver housing at scale, in the short to medium term.

In terms of the strategic development of the State’s residential land bank, all local authority sites have been mapped on the Rebuilding Ireland land map. The map includes details of over 700 local authority and Housing Agency owned sites amounting to some 1,700 hectares. This equates to a capacity (based on a national average of 35 units per hectare) of 59,500. The Rebuilding Ireland land map is available at https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/.

With regard to local authority owned lands that are zoned for housing, progression of development proposals for such lands is a matter for the relevant local authority in the first instance in accordance with housing, planning and local government legislation. This is the case whether development be directly or in partnership with other interests, such as Approved Housing Bodies or other housing providers.  

A strong social housing construction pipeline is already in place on many of the local authority sites, details of which are set out in the Social Housing Construction Status Report which is updated and published on a quarterly basis. The report covering the period up to end Quarter 3 of 2019, is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q3-2019/ .

The information is provided by each local authority area and it is updated and published on a quarterly basis.  

Housing Assistance Payment Eligibility

Question No. 770 answered with Question No. 736.

Questions (769)

James Browne

Question:

769. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a log cabin is an eligible form of housing under the HAP scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53183/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals.  At the end of Q3 2019, nearly 67,000 HAP tenancies had been set-up since the scheme commenced, of which there were more than 50,000 households actively in receipt of HAP support and over 29,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme. 

A key principle of the HAP scheme is that eligible households source their own accommodation in the private rented sector and the tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord.  The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented sector and sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. HAP supported tenancies are afforded the same protections available to all private rented tenancies.

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019.  All landlords, including those in receipt of HAP, have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these regulations and responsibility for the enforcement of the regulations rests with the relevant local authority.  Local authorities will also normally check to ensure compliance with all planning regulations.

In order for a housing authority to be satisfied that a tenancy is or would be in good faith; the onus is on the applicant and landlord to prove that what is being proposed is a bona fide tenancy.  Ultimately, it is up to the local authority to make a decision in each individual case.

My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review, which I consider to be a key vehicle in meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under Rebuilding Ireland.

Question No. 770 answered with Question No. 736.