Nitrates Action Programme Implementation

Ceisteanna (585, 586)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

585. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocated to the nitrates action programme annually in each of the years 2018 to 2021; the 2018 funding allocation broken down between current and capital funding; the number of full and part-time staff working directly on the programme in his Department; and the annual running and staffing costs, respectively, for his Department over the period in tabular form. [21152/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

586. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocated to the nitrates action programme annually in each of the years 2013 to 2017; the number of full and part-time staff working directly on the programme in his Department over the period; and the annual running and staffing costs, respectively, for his Department over the period in tabular form. [21153/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 585 and 586 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 495 of 8 May 2018. The position is unchanged.

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 583.

Ceisteanna (587)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

587. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the mortgage calculator for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme is yielding widely inaccurate figures for prospective applicants (details supplied); if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that local authorities are subsequently reducing the loan amount that applicants may avail of by a large amount by calculating a much greater figure than needed for mortgage protection insurance; and the reason local authorities are including much greater mortgage protection insurance costs than applicants can avail of on the open market. [21245/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, a new loan offering, known as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL), was introduced on 1 February 2018.

Following the initial roll-out of the scheme, my Department has engaged with the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency to consider the experience to date. As a result of this engagement, the online calculator on www.rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie has recently been updated to include the cost of mortgage protection insurance (MPI), when calculating the total loan amount that an applicant may be eligible to borrow under the scheme. As noted on the website, this calculator gives indicative results for illustrative and guidance purposes only and is not an offer of a loan.

In relation to the cost of coverage under the Local Authority Mortgage Protection Insurance scheme, it is a statutory requirement that MPI is taken out in respect of all local authority housing loans. This scheme is overseen by the Mortgage Protection Insurance Committee, and has applied to all house purchase loans approved by local authorities after 1 July 1986.

One of the conditions of the scheme, which is a group policy, is that it is obligatory for all borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria to join the scheme. Altering this condition would have a negative impact on the scheme and increase the cost for all existing borrowers.

The local authority MPI is designed to provide an appropriate level of insurance cover to those who wish to avail of the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. It offers a number of additional features over and above the standard MPI products available on the market. Standard MPI products are individually priced, based on a member’s age, amongst other factors, whereas the local authority MPI scheme is a group arrangement, offering a single group rate per €1,000 sum assured to all participants in the scheme.

The scheme also provides other benefits over standard MPI products. These include the payment of mortgage repayments if there is a valid claim as a result of disability; an additional payment of €3,000 in the event of a member’s death, separate to life cover; and members are also covered for death up to age 75 rather than 65 as is the case under standard MPI cover.

Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 583.

Residential Tenancies Board Administration

Ceisteanna (589)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

589. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the money transfers made from the Residential Tenancies Board to local authorities to fund inspections of privately rented properties; if the amount transferred to each local authority relates to the number of properties registered with the board in each local authority's administrative area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21249/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Section 176 of the Residential Tenancies Act provides that fees received by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) under the Act shall be paid into, or disposed of for the benefit of, the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister may direct. By various Ministerial Directions since 2005, a percentage of fees received by the RTB under the Act has been allocated for transfer to local authorities for the purpose of the performance of their functions under the Housing Acts in relation to private rented accommodation, including rental standards inspections.

Since 1 July 2016, the RTB retains the entirety of fees received under the Act to defray its costs; however, sufficient surplus funds were available to continue support for local authority inspections of rental accommodation until the end of 2017. Since establishment of the RTB, over €34 million has been paid to local authorities to assist them in performance of their functions under the Housing Acts, including inspections of rented accommodation, and over 185,000 inspections have been carried out.

Each local authority has been responsible for setting targets and conducting related inspections. My Department has recently written to all Local Authority Chief Executives, requesting implementation plans showing how they plan to increase inspection figures in the short, medium and long term with the objective to achieve the target by 2021 of inspecting 25% of all rental properties annually. I have secured €2.5m in Exchequer funding in 2018 to facilitate the increased inspections planned for this year on the path towards the 2021 objective.

Land Availability

Ceisteanna (590, 591)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

590. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area has been reviewed in comparison to the requirements of the national planning framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21254/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

591. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if instructions have been issued in relation to the de-zoning of the quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area in the context of the requirements of the national planning framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21253/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 590 and 591 together.

The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets parameters for future planning in Ireland at an overall and strategic level and was not written for direct application to individual counties and towns, without first having regional-level policies developed through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) process.

The quantum of zoned residential land in each local authority area has therefore not yet been reviewed in the light of the NPF, because RSESs are currently being prepared at Regional Assembly level to provide a co-ordination framework for local authority development plans in the light of the overall national level approach of the NPF. I expect that the Regional Strategies will be published for consultation by the middle of this year and finalised by year end or early in 2019. Following the adoption of each of the three RSESs by the respective Regional Assemblies, each Local Authority will be required to review their statutory land use plans, in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

No instruction has issued from my Department related to the de-zoning of lands on foot of the publication of the NPF. It is through the review process outlined above that the quantum of zoned land, including residential, can be fully quantified and determined. This approach was outlined to all 31 Local Authorities when they were briefed on the NPF by my Department over the course of March 2018.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (592)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

592. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of staff in his Department assigned solely or primarily to work on North-South issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21267/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

While there are currently no staff members assigned solely or primarily to North-South issues in my Department, a team of three in the Assistant Secretary led Corporate and Business Support Division, headed by a senior official at Principal Officer level, is involved directly at various times in planning and working on North-South issues, EU business and Brexit matters, with input from relevant line Units and experts across the organisation, as necessary.

In addition, Business Units across my Department liaise with their counterparts in the Northern Ireland administration in relevant areas as necessary.

Pyrite Issues

Ceisteanna (593)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

593. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the pilot pyrite remediation project recently announced for north County Mayo is aimed at dealing with all homes affected by pyrite; his views on the fact that the remedy proposed will only rectify homes in which the degradation has been caught early and will not rectify homes in which the degradation has advanced considerably; his plans for homes that will not be remedied by the current pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21314/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Expert Panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in 2016, to investigate problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Counties Donegal and Mayo.

The panel had the following terms of reference:

(i) To identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the Counties of Donegal and Mayo;

(ii) To carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected homeowners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties, to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings;

(iii) To outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied; and

(iv) To submit a report within six months.

On 13 June 2017, the report of the Expert Panel was published and included eight recommendations which my Department are actively progressing with the relevant stakeholders.

The panel's report concludes that the nature of the problem is manifested primarily by the disintegration of the concrete blocks used in the construction of the affected dwellings in Donegal and Mayo. The deleterious material in Donegal was primarily muscovite mica. The deleterious material in Mayo was primarily reactive pyrite.

A total of 5 engineering solutions have been proposed by the panel, as remedial solutions to address the problem ranging from removal and replacement of the outer leaf of affected walls only to complete rebuild of the dwelling.

The panel found that it is mainly private homes that are affected; however, there are also problems within the social housing stock in both counties which continue to be investigated.

My Department is prioritising the implementation of Recommendations 1 and 2.

With regard to Recommendation 1, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) Technical Committee, established to scope and fast track the development of a standardised protocol, held its inaugural meeting on 11 September 2017 and has held several further meetings since. The standardised protocol will inform the course of action in relation to remedial works for all affected householders. My Department understands from the NSAI that the Technical Committee is in the process of finalising the standardised protocol, which will be available for public consultation shortly. The public consultation will run for a period of six weeks.

In relation to the pilot remediation project in North County Mayo referred to, this is in respect of one unit of Mayo County Council social housing stock. The project was proposed to ascertain in more detail the extent of damage and the scope of works which will be necessary to carry out effective remediation for all of the remaining social housing units affected. It is expected that the experience gained on this remediation project will also assist the development of remedial solutions for all affected householders.

It should be noted that construction projects progressing through the 4-stage approval process are reviewed at each stage by my Department’s Social Housing Delivery team, including architectural and quantity surveyor advisors. The 4 stages are:

Stage 1 - Capital Appraisal submission to establish the business case;

Stage 2 - Pre-planning submission and cost check;

Stage 3 - Pre-tender approval and cost check;

Stage 4 - Tender approval.

My Department is currently awaiting a Stage 3 Application from Mayo County Council for the pilot remediation project in north County Mayo.

In addition, and in light of the information contained in the Expert Panel's report, I am currently considering what further actions may be required to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the problems that have emerged in the two counties.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (594, 599)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

594. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are a lot of new houses being advertised on property-for-sale websites (details supplied) with no given price just a Price on Application, POA; his views on whether developers are using this method to determine the level of interest in their properties and then in turn raising the price due to high demand; his plans to introduce legislation or conditions of planning permission to disallow developers from advertising new houses or apartment developments without a price; and his views on whether the POA should be abolished. [21317/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

599. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce legislation to ban developers and builders advertising new development housing units as Price on Application, POA, (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21328/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 594 and 599 together.

I have no function in relation to the regulation of how property websites and advertisements for properties for sale display information, including whether they provide specific asking prices or not.

I have no plans to introduce legislation or guidance in relation to the assignment of conditions of planning permission regarding the advertisement of new houses or apartment developments without a price.

Housing for People with Disabilities Provision

Question No. 599 answered with Question No. 594.

Ceisteanna (595, 596, 597, 598)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

595. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the development of five year strategic plans by each housing and disability steering group. [21322/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

596. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of assessment of housing needs which were carried out with disabled persons in each local authority area since the publication of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016. [21323/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

597. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units of accommodation which have been provided for persons with disabilities since the publication of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016 based on assessment of housing needs carried out by each local authority. [21324/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

598. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities which have undertaken awareness raising campaigns with private landlords and letting agents regarding renting to persons with disabilities as per action 1.3.2 of the national implementation framework of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011–2016. [21325/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 595 to 598, inclusive, together.

The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability Strategy (NHSPWD) 2011-2016 and associated National Implementation Framework are joint publications by my Department and the Department of Health. They set out the Government’s broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with a disability through mainstream housing policy. The Strategy, which identified 9 Strategic Aims supported by a number of priority actions and key measures, was affirmed in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and extended to 2020 to continue to deliver on its aims.

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. Accordingly, the day-to-day operation of the social housing system, including assessments for social housing support, is a matter for the relevant local authority. Information on the number of households qualified for and in need of social housing support whose need has not been met is set out in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) which, since 2016, is carried out annually. The most recent assessment was carried out in 2017, full details of which are available on my Department's website, at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf.

The following table shows the total number of households in each of the most recent summary of assessments for 2017 that were identified as having a housing need based on a disability:

SSHA

Basis of Need - Disability

2013

3,938

2016

5,753

2017

5,772

The increase in numbers shows that people with disabilities are now applying to local authorities in greater numbers than before, particularly since 2013, indicating a greater awareness of the social housing supports available. The increase in numbers seeking assessment of their housing needs can be attributed in no small part to the development of the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Allocation Process for Housing Provision for People with a Disability, which were adopted for implementation by local authorities in 2014. Following an extensive consultation with stakeholders, my Department issued revised Guidelines to local authorities in October 2017; these are available at the following link:

https://www.housingagency.ie/Housing/media/Media/Disability%20Strategy/National-Guidelines-for-the-Assessment-and-Allocation-Process-for-Housing-Provision-for-People-with-a-Disability.pdf.

Additionally, in furthering the objectives of the NHSPWD, the Housing Agency has published a number of documents to support people with disabilities to access social housing supports through local authorities. These include "Housing Options" and "An Easy to Read Guide to filling in the Social Housing Support Application Form". All documents are available on the websites of the Housing Agency, the local authorities and Citizens' Information. Work is also underway on Easy Read versions of the Housing Adaptation Grants forms and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which will be available shortly.

In accordance with the vision and strategic aims of the NHSPWD to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level, Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) have been established in all local authority areas. These are chaired by the Directors of Housing with membership including the HSE and disability representatives. Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet the identified and emerging housing needs of people with disabilities in their areas with a view to developing annual targets for the delivery of housing to people with a disability on their housing waiting lists. All Plans are now operational in each local authority and the majority of them have already been published on the relevant local authority websites with the remainder due to be published in due course. These Plans, along with the Summary of Social Housing Assessments, allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing mechanisms. My Department does not hold data on the number of units of accommodation provided specifically for people with disabilities.

Priority action 1.3 of the Framework is to “promote the increased use of the private rental sector to meet the housing needs of people with disabilities”. There are three key measures under this Action, including Action 1.3.2 “Awareness raising campaigns will be undertaken amongst private landlords and letting agents regarding renting to people with disabilities”. In tandem with the work of the HDSG’s, accommodation solutions for people with disabilities are being put in place through schemes such as the Long Term Leasing Scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Additional leasing initiatives have been developed such as the Repair and Leasing scheme launched in 2017 and the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme launched in January 2018. Under the Enhanced Leasing Scheme, the extent to which proposals make provision for wheelchair accessible properties is specifically taken into account. The annual targets under the Local Housing and Disability Strategies will ensure that a proportion of the properties leased from private landlords/developers will be allocated to people with a disability.

Local authorities also support households with a disability through the Housing Assistance Payment. This scheme has been widely promoted to private landlords. Currently a working group set up under the NHSPWD is scoping out work on key measure 1.3.2 as part of their workplan for 2018, including the potential role of an awareness campaign. It is also intended to seek the views of private landlords and letting agents on their experiences renting to people with a disability. The work on this key measure is due for completion by Q4 2018.

The supports put in place since the launch of the Strategy in 2011, together with substantial funding provided by my Department, point to tangible progress for housing for people with disabilities and accord with the Programme for Government commitment to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Question No. 599 answered with Question No. 594.

Land Acquisition

Ceisteanna (600)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

600. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding lands in Ashbourne identified publicly by his Department for public housing but in the ownership of the Department of Education and Skills; and if it is planned to provide housing. [21402/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I understand that negotiations between Meath County Council and the Department of Education and Skills regarding the transfer of the site to facilitate housing development in the Ashbourne area are at an advanced stage.

My Department has been actively engaging with the Department of Education and Skills in this regard, to highlight the potential value of this site to support housing delivery under Rebuilding Ireland , and to ensure that this site is brought forward for development, as soon as possible.

Compulsory Purchase Orders

Ceisteanna (601, 602, 603)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

601. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has made inquiries into the fact that Wicklow County Council paid €3 million to CPO land at Charlesland in view of the fact that nine years later this land has not been registered in its name; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21428/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

602. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has examined the draw down of €3 million which was paid by Wicklow County Council in a CPO for land at Charlesland in order to confirm the source of the funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21429/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

603. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the fact that lands owned by Wicklow County Council have been registered in names (details supplied) without notice of disposal going before Wicklow County Council will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21430/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 601 to 603, inclusive, together.

The registration of title to land owned by a local authority is a matter for each individual authority.

The CPO referred to and administration of an associated loan application by my Department were the subject of independent reviews by a Senior Counsel who was commissioned by the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The reviews found that the relevant legal requirements and administrative requirements or practices were complied with. I understand that the loan of €3m was subsequently drawn down by the Council from the Housing Finance Agency.

Subsequent to the independent reviews, correspondence has been received in relation to a number of complaints regarding certain matters in County Wicklow, including certain issues relating to the lands referred to, which is being considered.