Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (87)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

87. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the criteria that local authorities will apply in operating the new home loan scheme announced under Rebuilding Ireland; the funding available for this scheme; the projected number of loans that will be issued under the scheme over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9719/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, careful attention has been given to the terms and conditions that apply to the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which are set out in the Housing (Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans) Regulations 2018. Decisions on all loan applications must be made in accordance with the applicable statutory Credit Policy in order to ensure lending prudence and to assist local authorities across the sector to engage consistently in responsible mortgage lending.

Full details of the loan's eligibility criteria and other information is available from the dedicated Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan website at the following link http://rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie/.

Funding of €200 million for the new Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan has been raised by the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) from a variety of sources, on a fixed rate basis for periods out to thirty years maturity. Based on the pricing achieved, local authorities can offer a first tranche of fixed-rate annuity finance to eligible borrowers at rates of 2.0% and 2.25% per annum, for terms of up to twenty five and thirty years respectively, up to an aggregate maximum of €200 million. As the available funding under the first tranche reduces towards €50 million, the HFA will access new funding at the prevailing rates in the market and will make available a second tranche to local authorities, which will be accessed once the first tranche is fully advanced.

This funding is not allocated to individual local authorities but rather will be drawn down by local authorities from the HFA to match their lending under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. It is not possible to estimate the number of fixed rate loans that will be drawn down under this loan. As is currently the case, my Department will continue to publish information on the overall number and value of local authority loans on its website.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (88)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

88. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the proposed breakdown of the number of private, for profit and speculatively built homes to be built under the Project Ireland 2040 development plan; the number to be built by local authorities and approved housing bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9720/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

By 2040, the population of Ireland is expected to reach almost 6 million with a need for over 550,000 more homes (roughly 25,000-30,000 new homes every year) and the creation of over 600,000 additional jobs. The NPF envisages that compact growth will be key in relation to supply coming on stream, meaning that there will be more homes provided in towns and villages close to where people work, and where services can be provided.

It will be for Regional Assemblies and Local Authorities to decide on the specific locations for housing through their development plan processes. While the NPF sets the overall national picture, the RSESs and local city and county development plans will provide the detail.

Under the National Development Plan, €11.5 billion will be provided for investment in social housing over the next decade, which will deliver 112,000 new social housing homes, maintaining the increased level of social housing building committed to under Rebuilding Ireland by 2021.

Social and Affordable Housing

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 81.

Ceisteanna (89)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

89. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the clause in the affordable purchase scheme regulations (details supplied) will lead to a vote seeking and create an unhealthy relationship between members of the local authority and persons that are seeking to apply for the affordable purchase scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9683/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Local government has both a representational and an operational role, providing, inter alia, a forum for the democratic representation of local communities, giving expression to local identity, identifying local concerns and setting local priorities.

With regard to the scheme of priority for affordable dwelling purchase arrangements, I will shortly make regulations on matters to be dealt with in such a scheme, including:

- the determination of the suitability of affordable dwellings to meet identified accommodation needs and the manner in which such dwellings are provided to eligible households;

- the classification of households; and

- the order of priority for the sale of affordable dwellings, including priority within household classes.

I do not share the Deputy's concerns regarding the role of local authority members in setting the scheme of priority for the sale of affordable homes, as provided for in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Local elected representatives already perform a number of important analogous functions, including in relation to Schemes of Letting Priorities for social housing.

Notwithstanding this, it should be noted that there will be a requirement for the local authority to provide me, as Minister, with a draft scheme or amendment to the scheme, as the case may be. If I deem it necessary and appropriate to do so, I will have the power to direct the local authority to amend their draft scheme, and under the proposed regulations, the local authority will be obliged to comply with any such Ministerial direction.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 81.

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (91)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

91. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the units built under an exemption (details supplied) will be subject to self certification by the owners in terms of the building regulations including fire and disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9682/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 amend Article 10 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2017 to provide an exemption for the change of use, and any related works, of certain vacant commercial premises to residential use without the need to obtain planning permission.  The main objectives of this exemption are to facilitate the provision of increased and much needed housing supply, to maximise the use of vacant underutilised spaces (including over ground-floor premises) and assist in the rejuvenation of inner-core urban areas.

Neither the granting of planning permission nor the provision of an exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission removes the requirement to comply with any other code, particularly the Building Regulations, a core objective of which is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. It is important to note in the context of the new planning exemption that compliance with the Building Regulations 1997 to 2017 must still be achieved and the statutory building control procedures will still apply.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations, including Part B (Fire Safety), rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings.  In particular, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 require greater accountability in relation to compliance with the Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction by registered construction professionals and builders, lodgement of necessary compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.

Traveller Accommodation

Ceisteanna (92)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

92. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the 45% underspend by local authorities on Traveller accommodation in 2017; and the steps he has taken in 2017 to address same. [9688/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.  My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.  

The allocations and recoupment profiles for capital Traveller accommodation projects can vary across local authorities given the local priorities, circumstances and project timelines as set out in the TAPs.   Local authorities adopted the fourth and current round of TAPs in April 2014, with the five-year rolling programmes running from 2014 to 2018.  These programmes provide a road map for local authority investment priorities over the period.  They also form the basis for the allocation of funding from my Department for Traveller accommodation.

As part of the allocation process, local authorities submit a programme of capital works for individual Traveller-specific projects and developments which are assessed in my Department, in advance of allocations being made.  Further funding is considered by my Department throughout the year, on a case by case basis.

In line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland, and reflecting the disappointing level of overall funding drawdown in recent years, in 2017 the Housing Agency commissioned an expert, independent review of funding for traveller-specific accommodation to date.  This review had regard to targets contained in the local authority TAPs and actual units delivered, the current status of accommodation funded and funding provided for accommodation maintenance and other supports. 

Following its consideration of the review, the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee agreed to establish an Expert Group to examine and make recommendations on issues regarding Traveller accommodation policy, strategy and implementation.  The Committee will play a key role in determining the final terms of reference for the Expert Group.  My Department will consider any recommendations made by the Expert Group to improve the delivery of traveller accommodation nationally and to ensure that full use is made of the increasing level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (93)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

93. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of homes refurbished through the repair and lease scheme since its inception; his plans to reform the scheme; the new targets for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9482/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) has been developed to assist private property owners and local authorities or Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to harness the accommodation potential that exists in certain vacant dwellings across Ireland. The RLS was established on a pilot basis in Waterford and Carlow local authorities in October 2016 and expanded nationwide from 23 February 2017.

The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant dwellings, who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their dwellings up to the required standard for rental property. Subject to the suitability of the dwelling for social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the local authority or an approved housing body (AHB).

I can confirm that at the end of 2017, a total of 820 applications had been received under the scheme. Local authorities were engaging with the property owners in relation to 573 properties, 31 agreements for lease had been signed and 9 homes had been delivered and tenanted. A detailed breakdown of the RLS scheme data up to end Q4 2017 is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

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

It is clear from end 2017 output, that RLS has not yet delivered the level of new social housing homes envisaged. I have reviewed the operation of the scheme, as part of the review of Rebuilding Ireland, and I have concluded that the scheme has significant potential but there are areas where it can be improved to make it more attractive and effective. At the Housing Summit held on 22 January 2018, local authority Chief Executives were advised that, from 1 February 2018, a number of key changes were being made to the scheme. These include:

- a reduction in the minimum lease term required from 10 to 5 years;

- increasing the proportion of market rent available to property owners where they take on more responsibilities under the tenancy, meaning that up to 92% of market rent will be available; and

- provision of additional funding for property owners, over and above the current €40,000 limit, where the dwelling is a bedsit type dwelling being brought into compliance with the Standards for Rented Houses Regulations and made available for social housing.

Funding of €32m is available for RLS for 2018 with an overall target of 800 dwellings. The target number of social houses to be delivered across all delivery mechanisms in each Local Authority area out to 2021 was confirmed to each Local Authority on 5 January 2018, with a particular focus on 2018 delivery. Each Local Authority Chief Executive is now required to furnish a report confirming and setting out how their Local Authority will deliver on its social housing target over the coming years. The targets and details of the delivery programme of each Local Authority will then be published.

Planning Issues

Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 47.

Ceisteanna (94)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

94. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the senior counsel review of planning inquires in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9484/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department received a report from Senior Counsel in June 2017 regarding his Review Into Certain Planning Matters In Respect Of County Donegal.

My Department is currently reviewing and assessing the contents of Senior Counsel’s report and I have requested the advice of the Attorney General in respect of a number of points in relation to publication of the report and further actions arising.

When I have received the Attorney’s advice, my Department will finalise a submission for my consideration regarding what further appropriate actions are open to me.

Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 47.

Private Rented Accommodation Evictions

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 38.

Ceisteanna (96)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

96. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will meet persons facing eviction residing in apartments (details supplied) as requested. [9705/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Security of tenure provisions under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 apply once a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of 6 months, with no notice of termination having been served during that time. Section 34 provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served. The reason must be one of those set out in section 34; for example, that vacant possession is required for substantial refurbishment of the dwelling.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Acts to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.  Section 56 of the Act provides that, where there is an abuse of the termination procedure in section 34, a tenant may bring a complaint to the RTB on the basis that they have been unjustly deprived of possession of a dwelling by their landlord. 

Notice periods for the termination of a tenancy by a landlord vary, depending on the duration of the tenancy, but periods of up to 224 days are required.  If a landlord is terminating the tenancy on the grounds that he or she intends to substantially refurbish or renovate the dwelling in a way that requires the dwelling to be vacated for that purpose, the notice of termination must include a statement;

(a)    specifying the nature of the intended works and providing a copy of any related planning permission. Where planning permission is not required, the notice or statement must specify the name of the contractor and the proposed dates for the works.

(b)   that the landlord is required to offer to the tenant a tenancy of the dwelling if it becomes available for re-letting within a period of 6 months, subject to certain conditions.

On 23 November 2017, the RTB published a comprehensive set of guidelines on what constitutes substantial refurbishment or renovation for the purposes of a section 34 ground for tenancy termination. The guidelines are available on the RTB website at the following link: https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/images/uploads/Comms%20and%20Research/RTB_Guidelines_for_good_practice_on_the_substantial_change_exemption_in_Rent_Pressure_Zones.pdf

I have asked my Department to keep under review whether there is value in placing these guidelines on a statutory footing.

As this is a matter between landlord and tenant, it would be inappropriate for me to intervene or comment on any specific case.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 38.