Mortgage to Rent Scheme

Ceisteanna (944)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

944. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if mortgage to rent mortgages are exempt from being sold to private equity firms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23292/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Mortgage to Rent Scheme for borrowers of private lending institutions is targeted at those households in arrears who are eligible for social housing support, whose mortgage has been deemed unsustainable in accordance with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process enforced by the Central Bank. 

Under the Mortgage to Rent scheme, a household with mortgage arrears goes from being a homeowner to becoming a social housing tenant.  The borrower voluntarily surrenders their property to their lender who in turn sells the property to an Approved Housing Body (AHB) or another approved company called Home For Life. This facilitates the household remaining in their home as social housing tenants paying an affordable rent based on their income.  The AHB or Home For Life receives monthly payments from the local authority in accordance with the agreement(s) they enter into with the local authority for the length of those agreements.

In terms of the mortgages associated with properties that progress through the MTR scheme, the proceeds from the sale of the property go towards the borrower’s mortgage debt.  Any debt remaining after the sale of the property is a contractual matter between the lender and the borrower. The regulation of the sale of mortgage assets is a matter for the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank.

Wild Fires

Ceisteanna (945)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

945. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider putting in place new protocols in the instances of the Air Corps being unable to supply air cover to fight wildfires such as the case which occurred recently in County Donegal; if protocols will be put in place by which air cover would be either called in from the private sector, Northern Ireland or western Scotland in the case of fires in north-western Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that further to the publication of the recent report into air cover for wild fires in County Donegal, one of the main reasons air cover cannot be guaranteed is the lack of personnel in the Air Corps at present and it is noted it will take some time to restore numbers to sufficient levels as to guarantee air cover for instances; if he will initiate clear protocols to be established between his Department, the various local authorities and fire services and-or the RAF and-or the Irish Coast Guard, if required, in order to avoid future time delays in providing air cover to fight wildfires; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23427/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Despite the efforts of the fire and emergency services and local farming communities, using controlled burning at appropriate times of the year, wildland fires can unfortunately occur in certain areas of the country during very dry conditions. 

Considerable inter-agency efforts have been made to reduce the incidence of wildland fires, led by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, whose Department monitors conditions and issues wildland fire warning notices. That Department has led an inter-agency review with a view to enhancing the mitigation of wildland/gorse fires. It is imperative that communities and relevant bodies continue to work together to seek to prevent and control wildland fires.

Local authority fire services respond to incidents of fire in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. The officer in charge of the local authority fire brigade is empowered to request additional resources as part of the response, taking account of the situation confronted and drawing on standard approaches to firefighting and operational guidelines. 

The priority of fire services in responding to incidents of wildland fires is the protection of life in local communities and among emergency responders. An important secondary objective is working with local communities to try to protect infrastructure, family homes and other property, as well as conservation areas, where it is safe to do so.  

The response to such wildfires is supported by well established arrangements where local authority fire services may, through the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department, request the assistance of the Defence Forces. The kind of support provided to local authority fire services by the Defence Forces in wildland fire-fighting has been very effective and is greatly appreciated.

It is acknowledged that the primary function of the Air Corps helicopter fleet is not fire-fighting and there are times when aerial firefighting support may not be available or the helicopters may be deployed at other locations. In such instances, this information will be relayed to the senior fire officer at the scene who, depending on the circumstances, may decide to activate a procedure for the use of private helicopters with aerial firefighting capability, if this is available.  Irish Coast Guard helicopters provide a vital search and rescue service and would not be requested or deployed for aerial firefighting. 

It is anticipated that aerial firefighting support would only be requested from another jurisdiction in extreme circumstances where neither the Air Corps nor private helicopter capacity were available to provide assistance.  It is often the case that conditions which support the development of wildland fires will affect adjacent jurisdictions at the same time, and therefore its aerial firefighting resources may already be deployed.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Ceisteanna (946, 947, 964)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

946. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the date on which a budget for the running of the Tipperary task force was approved; the amount approved; the way in which it will be administered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

947. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding approved and allocated to the Tipperary task force under the leadership of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23463/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

964. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided to the Tipperary task force under the leadership of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 946, 947 and 964 together.

Supporting the development and growth of towns and villages across Ireland is a major priority for this Government and to this end policy interventions are being pursued across a number of Government Departments and are being implemented by local authorities around the country. In particular, €2 billion is available under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, with a further €1 billion available under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

The Tipperary Town Forum is a local initiative supported by Tipperary County Council and a number of state agencies. I met with local stakeholders on 24 January 2019 and following that meeting a series of measures were put in train. A submission from Tipperary County Council seeking funding to support the Forum is currently under consideration in my Department and will be finalised shortly.

The work of the Town Centre Forum over a three year period will focus on preparing projects for submission under the various funding programmes that have been put in place by the Government. 

My Department will continue to engage with Tipperary County Council to provide advices and support in relation to its work on the development and regeneration of its towns, including Tipperary Town.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (948, 949)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

948. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of restoring the housing aid for older people scheme budget to 2010 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23645/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Butler

Ceist:

949. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of reversing the changes to criteria introduced to the housing aid scheme in January 2014 to ensure better access to grants for disadvantaged older persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23646/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 948 and 949 together.

My Department provides funding under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, in respect of private houses. There are three separate grants available, including the Housing Aid for Older People grant. Funding of €71.25 million was allocated for the three grants in 2019, with responsibility for the apportionment between them being a matter for each local authority.  Any increase in funding would have to be considered in the context of the full suite of grants. An additional €28.38 million would be required to restore the funding for the three grants to 2010 levels.

The terms and conditions governing the grants were examined in 2013 by a review group that included representatives of grant beneficiaries and the local authorities. They considered how the benefits of the grants could be spread as widely as possible and to achieve fairness and value for money in the grants process. Arising from the recommendations of the review group, the income requirements, eligibility and maximum grant were revised in 2014 to focus the grants towards those with the greatest need. It is not possible to predict the number of potential new applications that fall outside the new criteria introduced in 2014, and therefore my Department is not in a position to furnish an estimate of the cost of reversing these policies.

I am conscious of the benefit accruing from these grants, particularly in terms of facilitating older people and people with a disability, to remain living independently in their own homes.  This is recognised in the Programme for Government and as a consequence, funding has been increasing year on year since 2014.  As part of the annual budgetary process, consideration will be given in future years to increasing further the funding for these grants in line with both Rebuilding Ireland and the Government's Policy Statement on Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, which is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/housingoptionsforanageingpopulationeng_web.pdf.

Fire Safety

Ceisteanna (950)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

950. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish a remedial fund for fire safety issues in apartment blocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In the first instance, I would like to acknowledge the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.   

However, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved: the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is important to note that 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.  It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues, nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, all of which may be relevant where fire safety concerns arise in residential developments. Fire services may inspect buildings in cases of defects or complaints in respect of fire safety.  They work with building owners to ensure immediate risks are addressed, and  a plan put in place for works to bring buildings into compliance. They have enforcement powers for cases where co-operation is not forthcoming, or progress cannot be made on an agreed basis.  Local authorities are independent in the use of their statutory powers.

In the interest of supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns regarding non-compliance with fire safety requirements arise, it was agreed that a review be undertaken by an independent fire expert to develop a framework for general application.  In August 2017, the  Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings was published, 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 will also be 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. The Framework is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, and in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety, my Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management was asked to convene a Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of our approach to fire safety in Ireland.  In its report, the Task Force acknowledges the importance of fire safety in apartment buildings and makes a number of recommendations in this regard and I have tasked the Directorate's Management Board with implementation of the recommendations within its remit, and oversight of the implementation of other recommendations.  The Task Force Report is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_of_the_fire_safety_task_force.pdf. 

In addition, in relation to the Building Regulations, work has been on-going to review Part B – Fire Safety and a new Part B/ TGD B Volume 2 (2017) came into force on 1 July 2017. This Volume 2 applies to dwellings only.  A revised Volume 1, dealing with buildings other than dwellings, which includes apartments, is being prepared for public consultation.

Finally, in response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade, my Department has advanced a robust and focused 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.

Housing Estates

Ceisteanna (951)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

951. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is a fund available at national level for local authorities to address outstanding matters in residential developments that have not yet been taken in charge and in circumstances in which a remaining bond is insufficient to cover the cost of outstanding works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

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 which can include stand-alone treatment plants. Under the terms of the NTICI, which was underpinned by a once off fund of €10 million, developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the associated call for funding proposals. Ultimately, €7.5 million of the allocated funding was paid to local authorities in respect of 330 developments, containing some 14,930 homes. 

Findings and recommendations from the NTICI process were included in a report on the initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018. The report is available at the following link:  www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/national_taking_in_charge_initiative_report_dec2018.pdf. 

The publication of the NTICI report is 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, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water. In this regard, my Department is liaising with Irish Water in relation to the report.

Ultimately, however, progression of individual developments through the taking-in-charge process is a matter for the relevant housing developer, the residents in such developments and the relevant local authority, following the procedures laid out in section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

The National Development Plan, published last year, includes a provision for €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for developer-provided infrastructure, commencing with a provision of €6 million in 2019.  The multi-annual programme will be initiated through the invitation of project bids from local authorities followed by their evaluation by an Expert Panel, set up by my Department, to independently evaluate the bid projects to be approved for funding.

My Department is currently finalising the details of the programme and it is expected that the invitation for project bids from local authorities will issue shortly, with approval of projects for this first cycle multi-annual programme to take place once proposals submitted have been assessed.

Rent Pressure Zones

Ceisteanna (952)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

952. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position in relation to the application of the rent pressure zone limits to landlords that are in a RAS contract with a local authority in which the contract predated the introduction of the rent pressure zone limit; if the landlord can renegotiate a new rent at the end of the standard four year term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23206/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Government’s Strategy for the Rental Sector recognises that rapidly increasing rental inflation is the most significant challenge to security of tenure in the rental sector and that there is a need for a targeted, time-bound and transparent policy response to the issue of rising rents.  To address this, the Government introduced the Rent Predictability Measure.  This measure, which was provided for by the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, introduced the concept of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to moderate the rate of rent increases in those areas of the country where rents are highest and rising quickly.

The first rent review in relation to a property in a new Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) can only take place 24 months after the time that the tenancy was established or 24 months after the time that the rent was last set in respect of the dwelling in question. Thereafter, rent reviews can take place annually in RPZs. Tenants must be given 90 days’ notice of a new rent and can make an application for dispute resolution to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) if they consider the rent increase to be in excess of the market rent. A dispute can also be raised where the dwelling is located in a RPZ and the tenant considers that the rent increase does not comply with the 4% p.a. rent increase restriction.    

In the case of a tenancy of a dwelling in an RPZ, a landlord must, at the commencement of the tenancy, furnish the tenant with details of the amount of the previous rent for the dwelling and the date that it was set. In reviewing a rent in a RPZ, the landlord must also provide the tenant with 3 examples of rents for similar properties in a comparable area.

The rent increase restriction of 4% p.a. in RPZs equally applies to social housing tenancies under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).  Where the local authority in a RPZ wishes to offer a new RAS contract or to review a RAS rent, the rent increase restriction provisions under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019 apply as outlined above. It is a matter for each local authority, as the lessee in RAS contracts, to ensure compliance with the RPZ legislation in respect of RAS dwellings. The application of the Rent Predictability measures in RPZs assist local authorities and tenants to secure units within the private rental market at a more sustainable and predictable cost. 

 The RTB provides information in relation to rent setting in RPZs at the following weblink: https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/rent-pressure-zones/.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (953)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

953. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 14 May 2019, if the internal review has been completed; if so, the details of same; when an announcement will be made in order to recommence the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23224/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme was launched in February 2018 to replace the existing House Purchase and the Home Choice Loan schemes. Towards the end of last year I asked my Department to undertake a review of its operation.

In carrying out the review, the Department has consulted with a number of local authorities, the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). The review also had regard to the views raised by public representatives since the scheme's commencement.  In making any recommendations in relation to the operation of the scheme, it also takes account of the need to ensure that lending issued under it is provided on a prudential basis, so as to protect the financial interests of the borrowers and the local authorities.    

The review has been submitted to me and I am currently examining it.

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the HFA in order to enable its continuation.

My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to the amount of a second tranche, which I anticipate, will be finalised soon. When these discussions are concluded I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter.  Ahead of such an announcement, the operation of the scheme is not affected; the scheme remains open and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (954)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

954. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there are circumstances in which a council tenant who inherits a sufficient sum to purchase outright the rented council house in which they live can qualify for the tenant purchase scheme even though their income is entirely from social welfare; if there is discretion in these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23225/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015, provide the basis for the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses.  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.

The minimum reckonable income for eligibility under the scheme is determined by the relevant local authority in accordance with the detailed provisions of the Ministerial Direction issued under Sections 24(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. In the determination of the minimum reckonable income, local authorities can include income from a number of different sources and classes, such as from employment, private pensions, maintenance payments and certain social welfare payments, including pensions, where the social welfare payment is secondary to employment income.

The minimum income criterion was introduced in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.  Applicants must demonstrate that they have an income that is long-term and sustainable in nature. This ensures that the tenant purchasing the house is in a financial position, as the owner, to maintain and insure the property for the duration of the charged period, in compliance with the conditions of the order transferring the ownership of, and responsibility for, the house from the local authority to the tenant.

It should be noted that the financing of any house sold under the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a separate matter from the eligibility criteria for the scheme.  If the tenant is deemed eligible under the scheme, he or she may fund the purchase of a house from one, or a combination, of his / her own resources or a mortgage provided by a financial institution or a local authority house purchase loan.

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations. 

Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review shortly. I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the Review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Ceisteanna (955, 995)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

955. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter in relation to an assessment of income of a person (details supplied) under social housing guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

995. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the payment received by an apprentice is fully counted as income when assessing the income qualification of a couple to qualify for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24184/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 955 and 995 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, and the universal social charge.  The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature. There is no provision in the policy to deduct any other regular outgoings, such as maintenance paid in respect of family members, from gross household income for the purposes of the income threshold.

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.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support.  The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway.  The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Local Authority Funding

Ceisteanna (956)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

956. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the response given to the local Government funding review submission 2018 by Meath County Council (details supplied); the steps he will take to redress the imbalance in each area outlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23277/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Local authorities derive their income from a variety of sources, predominantly commercial rates, charges for goods and services, such as housing rents, funding from Central Government and local property tax (LPT). Central Government funding, both current and capital, emanates from a range of Government Departments and Offices.

There is a local discretionary element to some locally levied sources of income such as LPT, commercial rates and housing rents and it is a matter for Meath County Council to ensure it maximises local income sources and manages its expenditure, to deliver optimum services while delivering value for money for local businesses and citizens.

Comparing local authority income levels, in absolute terms, is a complex task, given the range and variety of local authorities, in terms of, size and population and the associated demands for local public services.

In relation to LPT, I established a Review Group to examine Baseline Funding of local authorities and in particular the methodology used to determine local authority funding baselines and the distribution of any additional available funding for general, non-infrastructure (operational) purposes. All submissions received as part of the consultation process, including that of Meath County Council, were considered by my Department in that context. 

I am considering the recommendations of the Baseline Review Group, having regard to the ongoing consideration of LPT and the Report on the Review of Local Property Tax by the Oireachtas Budgetary Oversight Committee.

Social and Affordable Housing

Question No. 958 answered with Question No. 49.

Ceisteanna (957)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

957. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the regulations regarding termination notices and voluntary housing associations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 amended section 3 of the Residential Tenancies 2004 Act so that dwellings let by approved housing bodies (AHBs) to social housing tenants now come within the remit of the Acts. The position of these tenants significantly improved by the change, which commenced on 7 April 2016, as they now benefit from the following:

- Increased security of tenure (under Parts 4/5 of the Acts);

- Access to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) dispute resolution procedures, including its mediation service (under Part 6 of the Acts);

- Binding obligations on AHBs as landlords to, inter alia, register all tenancies, keep dwellings in good repair and allow peaceful occupation.

A number of measures have been introduced in recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants.  Security of tenure provisions under Part 4 of the Acts apply once a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of 6 months, with no valid notice of termination having been served during that time. A Part 4 tenancy may be terminated by a landlord or tenant, without reason, at the end of its 6 year term. Section 34 provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served, other than at the end of its six year term, in line with the grounds set out in section 34 of the Acts.

The Acts provide that a Part 4 tenancy can be terminated by a landlord during its term where:

- A tenant is non-compliant with their obligations;

- The dwelling is no longer suitable to the accommodation needs of the tenant;

- A landlord wishes to sell the property;

- A landlord requires the property for their own use of use by a family member;

- A landlord wishes to refurbish the property; or

- A landlord wishes to change the use of  the  dwelling.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 further enhances the security of tenure for tenants by significantly extending the duration of tenancy termination notice periods; for example, a minimum of 180 days (approx. 6 months) notice must be provided by landlords who terminate a tenancy of between 3 and 7 years’ duration.  Termination notice periods of up to 224 days are required for tenancies of 8 or more years.

Duration of tenancy  

New Notice Period   

Less than 6   months

28 days

Not less than 6 monthS but less than 1 year

90 days

Not less than 1 year but less than 3 years

120 days

Not less than 3 years but less than 7 years

180 days

Not less than 7 years but less than 8 years

196 days

Not less than 8 years

224 days

In addition, further measures have been introduced to enhance and enforce tenancy termination provisions, including:

- the application of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)'s new investigation and sanctioning regime to improper conduct by a landlord who contravenes the tenancy termination provisions; and

- a new requirement for landlords to copy a tenancy termination notice to the RTB.

The RTB provides comprehensive information relating to tenancy terminations by landlords, including approved housing bodies, at the following weblink - https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/ending-a-tenancy/how-a-landlord-can-end-a-tenancy/.

Question No. 958 answered with Question No. 49.

Urban Development

Ceisteanna (959)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

959. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if progress is being made in relation to the provision of the necessary funding to Westmeath County Council to carry out a regeneration and revitalisation programme for western areas of Athlone (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23333/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040, with €2 billion identified in the National Development Plan (NDP) to 2027.  Of this, €58m is available in 2019 to provide initial support for the 88 projects approved for URDF support last November, while €550 million is included in the NDP to provide further support for these and other similar projects up to 2022. 

Support from the Fund will assist in rejuvenating Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, and enabling a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns.  It will ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.

Bids were invited from public bodies for funding under the URDF and a total of 189 applications were received by my Department under the first call for proposals. On 26 November 2018, initial URDF support of €100m was provisionally allocated to a total of 88 projects throughout the country. 

As part of this first tranche of approvals, Westmeath County Council was awarded initial URDF support for a number of projects including Category 'B' funding towards the provision of technical assistance to develop their proposal for the regeneration of an expanded Tourism and Cultural Quarter in Athlone, which includes Connaught Street.

While the advancement of successful proposals under the Fund is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant applicant, my Department has been actively engaging with successful applicants to further clarify the details of their proposals. My Department has now concluded this process and further correspondence outlining the terms and conditions attached to the URDF support will issue shortly.

Housing Adaptation Grant Applications

Ceisteanna (960)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

960. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of an application to have a stair lift installed in their home by a person (details supplied); and when installation work will commence. [23343/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The detailed administration of the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, including the assessment, approval and payment of individual grants to applicants, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. 

I understand from the local authority in question that they are awaiting the submission of estimates of costs for the works from the applicant in question, in order to progress the application further.