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Housing Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 27 May 2021

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Questions (161)

Carol Nolan


161. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the qualifying conditions a person must meet in order to be able to access supports for first time buyers under the Affordable Housing Bill 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28971/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Affordable Housing Bill 2021 provides for three schemes delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to put affordability at the heart of the housing system and prioritise the increased supply of affordable homes through (1) affordable homes on local authority lands, (2) the introduction of a new form of tenure in Cost Rental, and (3) a new affordable purchase shared equity scheme.

In relation to affordable homes on local authority lands, Section 10 of the Bill sets out the conditions for purchaser eligibility: (i) applicants’ financial means to be within parameters to be prescribed in regulations by me, as Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, (ii) applicants to be first-time buyers, (iii) applicants not to own or have an interest in dwelling, and (iv) applicants to be legally entitled to reside in the State. It is intended to provide in such regulations that the eligibility threshold will be that the applicant cannot secure a mortgage for 90% of the open market value of the dwelling being made available. Regulations may also require that other savings/assets are taken into account when considering eligibility.

Limited exceptions are provided to conditions (ii) and (iii), to provide as follows: (a) a person applying had previously purchased/built a dwelling as part of a marriage/relationship that has now ended, and that person does not retain a beneficial interest in the dwelling; (b) a person applying had previously purchased a dwelling, but sold it/became divested of it as part of insolvency/bankruptcy proceedings; and (c) a person applying owns or owned a dwelling, but it is now too small/unsuitable for current household needs. Regulations and/or guidelines may also be made in relation to these exceptions.

Regarding Cost Rental, Section 32 of the Bill empowers me, as Minister, to regulate the letting of designated cost rental dwellings. The Minister may prescribe eligibility requirements in respect of tenants and their households, along with the process all landlords must follow when advertising vacant dwellings and entering into tenancies.

In relation to the provision of funding to purchase an equity share in private dwellings, Section 42 of the Bill provides that the Minister may contribute funds to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the purpose of operating and administering an Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme. It also provides that the Minister, may agree the terms by which the equity support may be provided in a memorandum of agreement with the SPV covering, inter alia, areas such as purchaser eligibility and financial means, the homes that may be considered eligible under the scheme, and the amount of funding that can be provided.

Required regulations will be made following the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas.