Questions Nos. 1 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions Nos. 12 to 23, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 24 to 34, inclusive, answered orally.

Rental Sector

Ceisteanna (35)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

35. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if legislation will be introduced to protect residents at a location (details supplied) who face eviction by a vulture fund and other tenants that find themselves in similar situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26807/18]

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 under tenancy for a continuous period of 6 months, with no valid notice of termination having been served during that time. 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; and

(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.

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. 

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. These guidelines are available on the RTB website. I have asked my Department to keep the implementation of the guidelines  under review and I am open to placing them on a statutory footing, if experience suggests that this is necessary.

Vacant Properties

Ceisteanna (36)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

36. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the work his Department has carried out to allow the change of use of vacant commercial properties in cities, towns and villages including vacant or underutilised areas over ground floor premises into residential units as outlined in point 6 of the Action Plan for Rural Development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25720/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Action 5.9 of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and Action 6 of the Action Plan for Rural Development committed to reviewing planning legislation to allow the change of use of vacant commercial units in urban areas, including vacant or under-utilised areas over ground-floor premises, into residential units without having to go through the planning process. 

To give effect to this action, my Department brought forward the necessary revisions to the planning regulations through the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2018 which were signed and brought into operation on 8 February 2018. 

The planning exemptions under these Regulations, which have a two-fold purpose in facilitating urban renewal and increased housing supply, operate for a limited period until 31 December 2021 and apply to commercial buildings which have been lying vacant for at least two years.  The exemptions relate primarily to works to the interior of such buildings and a number of restrictions apply to these works, including that a maximum of 9 residential units can be provided in any one building, and that certain minimum standards relating to floor areas, storage space and the provision of natural light are met for each unit. 

In addition, development works undertaken need to comply with the requirements of the Building Control Regulations, such as fire safety, structural stability and ventilation etc.   Additional work is being progressed in my Department on further streamlining, and providing guidance on, the building control regulatory requirements in relation to the conversion of vacant premises, including vacant spaces over retail units, into residential use.  I expect this updated guidance to be finalised next month. 

Local Authority Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (37, 88)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

37. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the degree to which he has identified land in each local authority area which is deemed suitable for the provision of local authority houses in the short-term, with particular reference to the local authorities in the greater Dublin area; the extent to which he expects their respective housing programmes to accelerate henceforth in view of the fact that an increasing number of families are becoming homeless and that the local authorities do not have adequate and available emergency housing; if he will issue instructions to ensure the provision of emergency housing in line with the need; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26868/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

88. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority houses under construction in each local authority area; the corresponding number of housing applicants on the relevant local authority's housing list; the extent to which he has received correspondence from the local authorities indicating progress in dealing with the housing situation; if he has issued specific instructions to the local authorities to utilise their existing lands for the provision of local authority houses as opposed to providing the funding to housing bodies; if there are particular reasons some local authorities have not been able to progress their housing programme in line with the urgency of the housing situation in their respective areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26867/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 88 together.

The Government, working with the local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and other delivery agents, is already exceeding the social housing delivery targets set for the first two years of Rebuilding Ireland. Just under 45,000 households have had their housing need met by the end of year 2 of the Rebuilding Ireland Plan – 33% of those targeted under the 6 year Plan as a whole.

Last October, I made it clear that the orientation of local authority social housing delivery was to shift towards greater construction activity, including the utilisation of lands in local authority ownership.  Good progress has been made in this regard - at the end of 2017, the social housing construction programme included 846 schemes (or phases), delivering over 13,400 homes – a very substantial increase on the 8,430 homes in the programme at end 2016.

Earlier this year, I advised all local authorities of revised minimum Social Housing Targets both for 2018 and also for the multi-annual period to 2021. The targets  are based on the proportion of the Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) appropriate to each local authority. The results of the 2017 summary show that there were 85,799 households deemed qualified for, and in need of, social housing support, which is a decrease of 6.3% (5,801) in net need compared to the 2016 summary.

In 2018, I expect to see nearly 26,000 households having their housing need met, with over 4,400 new build social housing homes to be delivered through local authorities and approved housing bodies, including through the Part V mechanism. As the ambition for social housing construction activity is targeted to continue to increase significantly, it is critical that local authorities, working with AHBs, focus on developing expanded pipelines of new social housing build projects. In order to support local authorities and AHBs to deliver, my Department has streamlined its approval processes, established a Delivery Office to provide technical advice, as well as supporting local authorities in acquiring additional staffing resources. 

Homelessness, particularly family homelessness, remains a key priority of Government.  In 2017, 4,729 individuals exited homelessness, which was a 54% increase on the previous year. There are now 21 Family Hubs in place and these are the preferred first response in terms of emergency accommodation, rather than hotels. Through the dedicated efforts of exit teams, 2,080 families left hotels last year, the majority of them moving into homes rather than hubs. While the supply of social housing is ramping up, we will continue to work to find the most suitable and appropriate solutions for homeless families and individuals.

Housing Estates

Ceisteanna (38)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

38. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the work ongoing to develop a policy to expedite the taking in charge of housing estates with developer provided water services infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26863/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The taking-in-charge of housing developments is a matter for the relevant local authority under section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). My Department launched the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative (NTICI) in April 2016 to trial new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the taking-in-charge process of housing estates, including estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure (DPI).

Under the terms of the NTICI, which was underpinned by €10m in funding, developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the associated call for funding proposals.  Ultimately, €7.7 million of the allocated funding was paid to local authorities in respect of 330 developments, containing some 13,400 homes.

Findings and recommendations from the NTICI process will be included in a report on the initiative that I intend to publish shortly. The publication of the NTICI report will be of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in applying the lessons from the pilot authorities, in a more general roll-out of a streamlined approach to taking-in-charge.  I expect that the initiative will contribute to further streamlining of the taking-in-charge process, through, for example, securing coordination with capital works by Irish Water. 

In addition, the recently published National Development Plan includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for developer-provided infrastructure. This is clear evidence of the Government's commitment to transition from the pilot phase under NTICI to a programme phase, commencing with an estimates provision of €3m in 2018 on which further details will be announced in due course.

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (39, 59, 84)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

39. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the reliance on for profit private developers to supply social and cost rental models of housing and so on will not deal with the housing emergency now or into the future and that a rights based housing programme, such as that in Finland, should be the model that he pursues in view of the recent visit and comments of the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26610/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Collins

Ceist:

59. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the right to housing must be inserted into the Constitution as a sign of intent to tackle the housing crisis into the future in view of the recent visit and comments of the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha. [26609/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

84. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on providing for a legally enforceable right to adequate housing either through statute or by way of a referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26828/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 59 and 84 together.

A motion to refer the Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution, which dealt with economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to housing, to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, was passed by the Dáil on 28 September 2017 and by the Seanad on 11 October 2017. This Committee will consider the issues raised by the Deputies.

In relation to the delivery of social housing, strong progress on implementation of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan is already being made.  Almost 26,000 households had their housing needs met in 2017- that is equivalent to 100 households each working day of the week. Furthermore, the number of social housing homes built in 2017 was more than three times the number built in 2016.

Following a Review of the Plan in 2017, the overall target for social housing delivery was increased to 50,000 housing units and there is now an increased emphasis on direct builds under the Plan. To underpin the increased ambition, additional capital funding was secured under Budget 2018, increasing the overall funding from €5.35 billion to €6 billion.

In relation to affordable housing, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing.  From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes.  My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes, and that analysis is progressing well.  

With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

The Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.   

In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund.  Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m.  When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing.  In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (40, 60, 79, 85, 87)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

40. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress being made to develop affordable homes and affordability schemes for those that find it difficult to access the housing market. [26864/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether there is an issue with land hoarding and property speculation that is having a negative impact on the delivery of public and affordable housing; his plans to deal with the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26885/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

79. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the affordable purchase scheme will fully commence; the number of affordable purchase scheme units to be provided in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26731/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

85. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason his Department has not rolled out an affordable housing scheme; his views on the impact this has had on the delivery of public housing on public land; his plans to introduce an affordable housing scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26886/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

87. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a national affordable housing scheme will be in place and operational (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26672/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40, 60, 79, 85 and 87 together.

Ensuring that we have a supply of housing that is affordable, particularly for households on low to moderate incomes, is a major priority for this Government. Recognising that people want a choice of affordable purchase and rental, depending on their stage of life and circumstances, both are being progressed through a range of initiatives. 

In order to underpin progress in this area, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing.  From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes.  My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes, and that analysis is progressing well.  Significant progress has been made on individual projects, such as the O'Devaney Gardens and Oscar Traynor Road sites in the Dublin City Council area.

With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

The Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.   

In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund.  Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the Fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m.  When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing.  In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.   

In relation to Adamstown, South Dublin County Council is the specified Development Agency for the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) in that area and is committed to working with the landowners to ensure the successful implementation of the SDZ Planning Scheme.  This will contribute to the construction of a mix of tenure types, the creation of an attractive place for people to live at more affordable prices and rents, and the creation of a sustainable, integrated community.  Arising from agreements made under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, Adamstown will deliver 2,000 homes by 2021, including houses at more affordable price points. 

While delivery from the State's land bank is a critical instrument in increasing the supply of affordable housing, the Government has also taken measures to incentivise development on privately owned sites and to discourage land hoarding. The planning process has been de-risked and streamlined through the new Strategic Housing Development process and the number of new homes granted planning permissions in Q1 2018 are up by 80% compared to Q1 2017.

In addition, the vacant site levy is playing an important role in countering land hoarding and ensuring that key sites are developed without delay.  This will be strengthened shortly through new legislation to increase the maximum annual levy from 3% to 7% from 2019 and I will be continuing to keep the operation of the levy under review.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (41)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

41. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of enhanced leasing scheme units due to be operational in 2018; when the scheme will be open to interested parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26729/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The first call for proposals for the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme was launched on 31 January 2018 and the Housing Agency accepted submissions from interested parties until 12 April 2018.

A total of 33 submissions were received from interested parties, which represents strong interest from the market. The Housing Agency is currently reviewing the proposals and will complete the initial review process in the coming weeks.

Detailed information with respect to the numbers and locations of the units proposed for leasing under the Scheme will only be available once the individual proposals have been assessed, marked and accepted in accordance with the terms of the scheme and the respective Local Authorities have signed any Agreements for Lease arising. 

The first call for proposals was primarily aimed at new to the market or yet to be built properties and, as such, the lead-in time for occupation is likely to extend beyond 2018 in the majority of cases.  Any opportunities for 2018 delivery will be pursued as a priority.

My Department is currently working with the Housing Agency on a second call for proposals and it is expected that this will open in July 2018.

Mayoral Election

Ceisteanna (42, 47)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

42. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a plebiscite for the election of directly elected mayors in Dublin, Cork and other cities will take place; and the timeline for a decision in this regard. [26873/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

47. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the concept of directly elected mayors will be rolled out for the 2019 local elections; the number of local authorities that will be selected for participation in such elections; and if the scope of powers for directly elected mayors has been determined. [26870/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 47 together.

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to consider directly elected mayors in cities as part of a broader range of local government reform measures aimed at strengthening local democracy. In response to this commitment, work on a policy report on directly elected mayors for cities is at an advanced stage of preparation in my  Department. I expect to be in a position to have this report submitted to Government in the coming weeks, and subject to Government approval, the intention is that the report would then be forwarded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for consideration.

The report will examine the range of functions which might be assigned to directly elected mayors, the cities in which they could be established, and governance arrangements underpinning the role. While the policy on directly elected mayors is still at development stage, I intend that provision for plebiscites will be included in the Local Government Bill 2018. The General Scheme of that Bill was approved by the Government on 6 June 2018 and it is currently being drafted with a view to its publication as soon as possible.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (43, 44, 54, 63, 71)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

43. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the outcome of his recent discussions with Dublin City Council, a group (details supplied) and his departmental officials regarding plans for public housing on the site of the former St. Michael's Estate, Inchicore, Dublin 8. [26805/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

44. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a social and affordable public housing scheme will be publicly funded at locations (details supplied). [26815/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

54. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will meet with the community organisers of an area (details supplied) to discuss their cost rental proposals for affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26877/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

63. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if consideration is being given to fully funding the building of 100% social and affordable rental on the site of the former St. Michael's Estate, Inchicore, Dublin 8; and when a final decision will be made. [26806/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

71. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the local organisations campaigning for an estate (details supplied) to be developed in line with the cost rental model will be supported; and the timeline for a decision to be made in relation to the estate. [26890/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 44, 54, 63 and 71 together.

St. Michael’s Estate is one of three significant sites being brought forward by Dublin City Council under its housing land initiative, HLI, the aim of which is to ensure the delivery of mixed-tenure homes in the Dublin City Council functional area. All three sites under the HLI are identified as strategic development and regeneration areas within the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022.

Mixed-tenure developments are an important policy objective of Rebuilding Ireland and uphold the principle of sustainable mixed communities, where housing needs are not subject to rigid segregation based on income levels. They also provide an opportunity to see major sites developed more quickly, and integrated into existing communities and areas.

The approach which the City Council is taking to the St. Michael’s project envisages the potential to yield over 400 mixed-tenure homes and the City Council has determined that the homes will be provided on the basis of a 30% social, 20% affordable, and 50% private tenure mix. The council has also agreed the methodology for community consultation, as set out in the feasibility study presented through a community consultative forum.

In line with good governance procedures, a project board, which includes representation from my Department and the National Development Finance Agency, has been established and is working to progress the development of this site.

As regards the delivery of affordable homes from this site, while it is ultimately a matter for the City Council to decide whether these are to be affordable homes to purchase or are delivered as cost-rental homes, I firmly believe that there is a need to ensure that the rental sector, particularly in our cities and major urban areas, is accessible and affordable.  In order to do this, we need to invest in a different type of rental offering, a so called cost-rental sector which operates between the social and private market sectors. In that regard, we are learning from pilot projects and the examination of similar models operating elsewhere.

Dublin City Council, my Department and the NDFA have at this point carried out detailed modelling and financial appraisal on this site, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is at an advanced stage.

In addition, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has under consideration the development of in excess of 500 homes at their Shanganagh Castle site, comprising a mix of tenures, including social and affordable homes. This ambitious proposal can deliver a new residential neighbourhood, including houses, apartments and duplexes and all associated infrastructure, including roads, footpaths, services and landscaping on the site.

My Department has met with the Council on a number of occasions over recent months with regard to progressing this development. It should be noted that I have also committed almost €5m under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) to build public infrastructure, which will assist in opening up the site for early development.

My Department will continue to engage proactively with the two local authorities involved in order to support early progress through procurement and onwards to construction on both of these significant sites.

Development Contributions

Ceisteanna (45)

John Brassil

Ceist:

45. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to review and reform the levy contribution scheme applied by local authorities (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26433/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under sections 48 and 49 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, planning authorities may attach conditions to planning permissions charging development contributions in respect of public infrastructure and facilities provided by, or on behalf of, the local authority that benefit development in the area.

Development contributions are levied by planning authorities on the basis of a development contribution scheme, approved by the elected members, which sets out how contributions are to be applied in their respective functional area. The level of contribution, and the types of development to which development contributions should apply, is therefore determined at local authority level in accordance with the powers vested in elected members, having regard to the governing legislative and policy framework.

In essence, the charging of such development contributions is intended to partly fund the provision of essential public infrastructure and the servicing of land for private development, without which development could not proceed. The money collected in this regard must be ring-fenced and used to fund public infrastructure and facilities servicing new development, for example, roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces.

My role as Minister is to provide the necessary legislative and policy framework within which individual development contribution schemes are adopted by each local authority. In this context, my Department issued statutory guidelines to planning authorities in January 2013 under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 on the implementation of development contribution schemes to which planning authorities are required to have regard in the performance of their planning functions. The 2013 guidelines updated and supplemented non-statutory guidance previously issued to local authorities by my Department by way of Circulars PD 4/2003 and PD 5/2007.

The 2013 guidelines, inter alia, emphasise the importance of promoting development through the application, where feasible, of reduced development contributions to facilitate development and promote economic activity and job creation in local areas with a particular focus on supporting town centre development and incentivising activity in the areas prioritised for development in the relevant core strategy.  

In accordance with section 48(5) of the Act, planning authorities are required to forward a copy of any draft development contribution scheme prepared to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, who may make recommendations to the planning authority regarding the terms of the draft scheme. In this context, the development contribution system is monitored and kept under review by my Department and where the need for further planning guidance for development contribution schemes is identified, my Department will develop such guidance as appropriate.

Departmental Agencies Funding

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 42.

Ceisteanna (46)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

46. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of his discussions with the Minister for Finance regarding Home Building Finance Ireland; the input his Department will have in the State agency; his views on the fact that the agency will be staffed by NAMA employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26822/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As part of Budget 2018, the Minister for Finance announced the Government's intention to establish Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) to provide funding to viable residential development projects in the State, whose owners are experiencing difficulty obtaining debt funding. With a fund of up to €750 million, HBFI will have the capacity to fund the supply of approximately 6,000 additional homes in the coming years, thereby making a meaningful impact in addressing the supply shortfall.  The HBFI Bill was published on 18 June and is a priority piece of legislation for the Government.

The establishment of HBFI has been modelled on the successful operation of NAMA’s residential funding team which has facilitated the delivery of circa 7,300 homes since 2014.  Given this experience, I understand that existing NAMA staff may be reassigned to HBFI to ensure that HBFI can benefit from the considerable experience and skills in residential delivery amassed in NAMA. Once HBFI is operational, NAMA will no longer have any role and any staff reassigned from NAMA to HBFI will no longer have any reporting line to NAMA to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest. Ultimately, it will be for the Board of HBFI, once constituted, to determine its precise staffing requirements, having regard to its functions.

HBFI will play an important part in the Government’s overall strategy to increase the supply of new housing. Together with the comprehensive set of actions laid out in Rebuilding Ireland, I am confident that HBFI will help provide a further impetus for the continued increase in home building across the country.

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 42.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (48)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

48. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of direct builds by each of the 31 local authorities in 2017; his views on the fact that 11 local authorities built zero homes; his further views on whether there may be an over reliance on private sector turnkey units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26823/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In 2017,  local authorities and approved housing bodies delivered 2,297 build homes across the country. This comprised 1,014 homes delivered by local authorities, 761 build homes delivered by approved housing bodies and a further 522 Part V homes were delivered by local authorities and approved housing bodies. In addition, a further 1,757 social homes were provided for new tenants under the Department-funded voids programme.

The significant expansion of the social housing build programme is evident in the Quarter 4 2017 Social Housing Construction Status Report, which was published on 19 April 2018. The programme includes 846 schemes (or Phases) at the end of last year, delivering 13,400 homes, a very substantial increase on the 8,430 homes in the programme a year earlier. At end 2017, 2,592 homes were completed, with another 3,646 under construction and a further 1,912 homes about to go on site. The full report can be accessed on the Rebuilding Ireland website at:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-q4-2017/.

Given that the scale and pace of local authority building activity are targeted to continue to increase, additional resources, including technical resources which during the inactive years had been lost to local authorities, continue to be replenished.  Streamlined approval processes for capital projects have also been put in place, including a revised single stage approval process.

Local authorities and approved housing bodies are being asked to actively utilise turnkeys, along with all other delivery mechanisms. Turnkeys are a good source of social housing that can often be quickly delivered, at value for money prices. In many cases, these projects would not go ahead without the certainty of the end purchaser and they are of particular use where the local Authority or approved housing body have limited or no lands available for housing in an area.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (49)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the outcome of all applications to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the reason there is such a high refusal rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26726/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme is operated by the local authorities.  As is currently the case, my Department will continue to publish information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Information up to Q3 2017 is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity, and this information will be updated on a quarterly basis as additional data is compiled.

The Housing Agency provides a central support service, for the local authorities, which assesses valid loan applications that are made to the local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants.  I have asked the Agency to centrally compile figures of the numbers of applications that it has assessed and the most recent figures, as at the end of May, indicate that the Agency had received a total of 1,499 applications for assessment from local authorities, 1,150 of which were deemed to be valid. Of these valid applications, 876 had been assessed and 52% of the valid applications that had been assessed by the Agency had been recommended for approval. 

Each local authority must have in place a credit committee which makes the final decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the Regulations, the statutory credit policy issued in accordance with the Regulations and having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

The purpose of the scheme is to enable credit-worthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range, where they have been unable to obtain sufficient mortgage finance from a commercial lender.  However, in accordance with the statutory credit policy, as with any other loan, potential borrowers must be credit-worthy and must demonstrate that they have the ability to repay the loan. It would be irresponsible to give individuals approval for loans that may see them placed under undue financial strain. The credit-worthiness checks that are part of the approvals process for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, and which may result in individuals being refused, help to safeguard against this eventuality and assist in protecting both the applicant and the Exchequer.

Homeless Persons Data

Ceisteanna (50, 69, 73)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

50. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the parameters of classifying homeless figures and statistics; the reason some persons with homeless priority are not included in the overall monthly figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26507/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

69. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the rationale for recent changes in the way in which homeless figures are calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26878/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

73. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his Department's definition of homelessness for the purposes of accessing housing; the criteria that deems a person or family to be homeless as interpreted by the local authorities in view of the fact that it would appear that individuals and families that are without a home and receiving temporary shelter with friends or family are not included under the terms of the definition of homelessness in its current form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26611/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50, 69 and 73 together.

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level.  Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services rests with individual housing authorities, with the criteria for assessing homelessness set out in section 2 of the Housing Act 1988.

My Department publishes a monthly report, which sets out in the number of individuals accessing emergency accommodation during the last full week of each month.  There have been no changes to this process. However, during the course of the compilation of the March and April reports, my Department identified that some individuals who had been reported as being in emergency accommodation were in houses and apartments, and a number of local authorities amended their figures to reflect this, following consultation with my Department.

The long-term housing needs of families and individuals who are in emergency accommodation will be met through a range of social housing supports such as the Housing Assistance Payment scheme and through general social housing allocations.  Significant progress is being made and in 2017, 4,729 individuals exited emergency accommodation into independent tenancies, a 54% increase on the 3,079 recorded in the previous year.   

My main priority and focus over the coming weeks and months, will continue to be to tackle and reduce the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Land Availability

Ceisteanna (51)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

51. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of publicly owned lands suitable for residential units; the number of residential units built on publicly owned land in each of the past five years; the steps he has taken to further enhance the construction of residential units on public land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21671/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The development of any residential land in housing authority ownership is in the first instance a matter for the local authority concerned, including its elected members.  I want to see local authorities realise new social and affordable homes from their lands without delay, with particular emphasis on prioritising those sites with the greatest potential to deliver housing at scale, in the short to medium term.

The active management of the publicly owned housing land bank is part of a range of complementary actions being progressed under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, designed to accelerate and increase housing output.  Details of some 1,700 hectares of land in local authority and Housing Agency ownership have been published on the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map as available at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/.

To date, State-led residential construction has focused primarily on helping to meet the needs of households in the lowest income brackets, through the social housing programme. With increased investment to deliver 50,000 new social homes by 2021, the significant expansion of the social housing build programme is evident in the Quarter 4 2017 Social Housing Construction Status Report, which was published on 19 April.  The programme includes 846 schemes (or phases) at the end of last year, delivering over 13,400 homes, a very substantial increase on the 8,430 homes in the programme a year earlier. The full report can be accessed at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-q4-2017/.

Work is ongoing to update the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map to reflect the relevant elements of the Q4 2017 Social Housing Construction Status Report and the PPP Programme and details will be published on the Map, at the link referred to above, once finalised.

Details on the number of properties purchased and built in each local authority area are available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/node/6338.

I have also advised all local authorities of their minimum Social Housing Targets both for 2018 and also for the multi-annual period to 2021, details of which can be accessed on my Department's website at: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordable/minister-murphy-publishes-quarter-4-2017-social-housing.

In order to underpin progress on affordable housing delivery, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new Scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing.  From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes.  My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes, and that analysis is progressing well.  Significant progress has been made on individual projects, such as the O'Devaney Gardens and Oscar Traynor Road sites in the Dublin City Council area.

With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

The Housing Agency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.   

In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund.  Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m.  When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing.  In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.

From a longer-term strategic perspective, as part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government announced on 16 February its intention to establish a new National Regeneration and Development Agency, which will have a role in managing the State's wider publicly-owned land bank to ensure that overall development needs, including housing, are met. The new Agency will work closely with local authorities, Government Departments, Agencies and other State and semi-State bodies to secure the best use of public lands and ensure the delivery on the objectives of the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan.

Tenant Purchase Scheme

Ceisteanna (52)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

52. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of the tenant purchase scheme will be finalised; when he plans to amend the conditions of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26840/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

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.

In line with the commitment given in Rebuilding Ireland, a review of the first 12 months of the Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. The review has incorporated analysis of comprehensive data received from local authorities regarding the operation of the scheme during 2016 and a wide-ranging public consultation process which took place in 2017 and saw submissions received from individuals, elected representatives and organisations.

The review is now complete and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations. In finalising the report some further consultation was necessary and due consideration had to be given to possible implementation arrangements. These matters are now almost completed and I expect to be in a position to publish the outcome of the review shortly.

Building Regulations

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 43.

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 53.

Ceisteanna (53, 55)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

53. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether those who bought their homes at the height of the boom and later discovered significant latent defects should be left to pay the cost of remediation. [26817/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

55. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the supports that will be made available to homeowners with houses that are a fire trap hazard. [26841/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 55 together.

Firstly, I acknowledge the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.  In response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade, my Department has advanced a robust and focussed Building Control Reform Agenda, including:

- Amendments to the Building Control Regulations;

- Establishment of a shared services National Building Control Management Project; and

- The ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

These reforms have already brought and will continue to bring a new order and discipline to bear on construction projects, creating an enhanced culture of compliance with the Building Regulations. 

However, it is important to note that under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. As such, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, i.e. the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and/or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners.

While my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

However, I and my predecessors, have supported homeowners through a number of expert reports and investigations into legacy problems such as the Report of the Pyrite Panel (June 2012) and the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks (June 2017). I also published a Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings (August 2017), which is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework is also of assistance to professional advisors, both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations. 

Where apartment buildings that are defective from a fire safety perspective come to the attention of the local authority fire services, they work with management companies and other stakeholders to ensure that appropriate levels of fire safety are achieved to minimise the risk to life. Actions are taken on the basis of case by case fire safety assessments.

Finally, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in my Department was tasked with co-ordinating a high-level Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland.  The Task Force's report, which was published recently, is available at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_of_the_fire_safety_task_force.pdf.

The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to fire safety in apartment buildings, including, including:

- the registration of fire stopping sub-contractors;

- the roles and responsibilities of Building Management Companies e.g. to review and maintain fire safety arrangements, to keep a Fire Safety Register, to advise residents on what to do in the event of a fire alarm (in particular the evacuation arrangements); and

- that local authority Fire Services should offer training to Building Management  Companies on key life safety issues.

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management has been mandated to carry through the recommendations of the report which are within my Department's remit and to oversee and report on the implementation of the report's other recommendations.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 43.
Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 53.