Section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that, subject to law, a local authority is independent in the performance of its functions. In addition, Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 specifically provides that the Minister's power to issue policy directions and guidelines to housing authorities in relation to their housing functions should not be construed as enabling the Minister to exercise any power or control in relation to any individual case with which a housing authority is or may be concerned.
Accordingly, I, as Minister, am precluded from intervening in relation to individual loan applications. The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each 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 statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency of treatment for all applicants.
Loan applicants who are dissatisfied with a loan application decision of a local authority Credit Committee may appeal that decision to the local authority. Details of the appeals process can be obtained from the relevant local authority.
It is recognised that current applicants for a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan may be experiencing difficulties arising out of COVID-19. Local authorities are being asked to show flexibility when dealing with applicants at all stages of the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan process from application and approval, to drawdown and appeal and should extend the time periods as necessary to accommodate those who may be experiencing difficulties arising out of COVID-19 restrictions.
Nevertheless, local authorities are also required to be prudent with their lending, both for the protection of the lender and the borrower, and ensure that mortgages are only advanced based on up to date financial and employment data from applicants, as appropriate, having regard to the implications that COVID-19 has had for many businesses and employers. In such cases, a decision on whether to withdraw or vary a loan offer is a decision for each local authority.
Loan offer and conditionality are ultimately a contractual matter between the borrower and the local authority. As such, borrowers may wish to consult with their solicitor who can advise further on contractual matters.