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, provide the basis for the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme 2016. The Regulations laid down concern the procedures and guidelines around the sale of a local authority property to a tenant.
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 or properties where the local authority has proposed to carry out reconstruction or improvement works under section 12 of the Housing Act 1988 or for the regeneration of the area in which the house is located.
With regard to the 2016 Scheme, there is no specific reference in the legislation or guidance in relation to cases where the local authority may still have an outstanding debt in relation to the property.
Section 45 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides for the sale by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies of designated new houses to eligible households, subject to specified terms and conditions set down in the Act and the associated Housing (Incremental Purchase) Regulations 2010 . The 2010 Incremental Purchase Scheme and underpinning guidance did provide for some limited tenant purchase in respect of housing which may have had a debt on same as it includes some provision for houses that remained unsold under the affordable housing scheme. However, such housing would have had to have been reserved for sale under the 2010 Scheme to qualify.
It is a matter for each individual local authority to administer these schemes in its operational area in line with the over-arching provisions of the governing legislation for the scheme, and in a manner appropriate to its housing requirements.