Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Ceisteanna (237)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

237. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the income limits appertaining to eligibility for local authority houses and loans will be revised upwards in view of the extent to which such applicants are excluded and forced into the private rental market which they cannot afford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27087/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports has commenced. The Housing Agency is carrying out the detailed statistical work on behalf of my Department and I expect the results of this review to be available for publication in late Summer 2018.

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, on 1 February 2018, a new loan offering, known as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was launched.  The new loan enables creditworthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range.  The low rate of fixed interest associated with the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan provides first-time buyers with access to mortgage finance that they may not otherwise be able to afford at a higher interest rate.

The income limits which are set out in the Housing (Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans) Regulations 2018 state that single applicants for the loan must not be earning greater than €50,000 gross per annum.  The combined income of joint applicants must not be greater than €75,000 per annum.  There are no set minimum income limits; however, applicants do need to have sufficient borrowing and repayment capacity and must be capable of repaying the mortgage in accordance with the statutory credit policy underpinning the loan.  These income limits are unchanged from the previous local authority loan offerings.

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

Any person who meets the eligibility criteria may apply for a loan regardless of whether or not they are on the local authority housing list or qualified for social housing support.