Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (1297)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1297. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to change the tenant purchase scheme to include a category of tenants (details supplied) that have been excluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5176/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 governing the Scheme provide for a number of specified classes of houses to be excluded from sale, including houses provided to local authorities under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, houses specifically designed for older persons, group Traveller housing and houses provided to facilitate people with disabilities transferring from institutional care to community-based living.

Part V homes are among the classes excluded from the tenant purchase scheme - this is to ensure that homes delivered under this mechanism will remain available for people in need of social housing support, and that the original policy goals of the legislation are not eroded over time. The provisions of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, are designed to enable the development of mixed-tenure, sustainable communities.

Local authorities may, within the provisions of the Regulations, exclude certain houses which, in the opinion of the authority, should not be sold for reasons such as proper stock or estate management. It is a matter for each individual local authority to administer the Scheme in its operational area in line with the over-arching provisions of the governing legislation, and in a manner appropriate to its housing requirements.

The 2016 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.

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been finalised and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.

This issue is part of a significant body of work undertaken in my Department in relation to the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect that the review will be published once all the work on these reform measures is completed.