Local Authority Expenditure

Ceisteanna (540)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

540. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the allocation to each local authority for estate management functions in 2018 and 2019. [38340/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department does not allocate specific funding for estate management purposes as this is a matter for each individual local authority.

Local authorities receive income from a variety of sources, including grants from Central Government, Local Property Tax, commercial rates and other locally-raised charges. Each authority is mandated to determine its own spending priorities, while having regard to locally identified needs and available resources.

Local Authority Members' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (541)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

541. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost in a full financial year of increasing the representational allowance for local councillors to €30,000, €35,000 and €40,000, respectively, per year. [38356/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Representational Payment that the 949 elected members of local authorities receive has a statutory link to the basic salary of a Senator and is adjusted in proportion to any adjustments made to a Senator's salary. With effect from 1 September 2019 the Representational Payment is €17,359 per annum.

Based on a simple flat rate calculation of stand alone increases to the Representational Payment and assuming there are no corresponding restructuring to other supports or to the role of councillors themselves, the per annum estimated costs of increasing the Representational Payment to the amounts stated are set out in the following table:

Amount

Additional Cost per Annum

Total Cost Per Annum

€17,359

€0

€16,473,691

€30,000

€11,996,309

€28,470,000

€35,000

€16,741,309

€33,215,000

€40,000

€21,486,309

€37,960,000

Councillors currently receive a range of other payments and expenses allowances, in addition to the Representational Payment. Based on data from local authorities, my Department has estimated that the total cost of these other payments and expenses allowances was approximately €11.8 million in 2018.

Taking account of feedback from councillors and their representative bodies regarding their current remuneration regime, my colleague, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, and I agreed to the appointment of Ms Sara Moorhead SC to carry out a review of the role and remuneration of local authority elected members.

The Review is at a very advanced stage of completion and once finalised will be the subject of discussion between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform prior to consideration by Government. The overall aim of the Review is to ensure that the remuneration of councillors are commensurate with their evolving role as public representatives with responsibility for the carrying out of important local functions.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (542)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

542. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of measures being funded through his Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021, particularly the measures included for the provision of grants for septic tank upgrades; the detail of the application process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38407/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas. An Expert Panel has been put in place to support the evaluation process and its membership includes Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation.

The Expert Panel has made recommendations to my Department on the suitability of schemes and projects for funding based on objective criteria which are set out in the framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals. I expect to conclude consideration of the Panel's recommendations and to make an announcement of the allocations shortly.

As part of the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme, I have also approved changes to the funding scheme for domestic wastewater treatment systems, or septic tanks. The new funding scheme will replace the grant which was brought into operation by the Domestic Waste Water Treatment System (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013. Under certain conditions, households can receive a grant to assist them in carrying out remediation, repair or upgrading works to, or replacement of, their individual domestic wastewater treatment system.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the new scheme. I expect that the process will be completed shortly when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Shared Ownership Scheme

Ceisteanna (543, 544)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

543. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount spent under the shared ownership scheme from its inception to its abolition, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38409/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

544. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to recommence the shared ownership scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 543 and 544 together.

In 2011, the Government announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the Shared Ownership scheme, given the changes in the property and lending markets. From 1991 to 2010, a total of 16,492 loans were issued under the scheme, of which 2,997 remained in place at the end of 2018.

Data in relation to the number of loans issued under the Shared Ownership scheme, broken down by year and local authority area is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/affordable-housing/affordable-housing-and-part-v-statistics.

My Department also publishes the number and value of all local authority mortgages drawn down, broken down by year, at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity, under the heading "Local authority loans approved/paid". However, this data does not provide a specific breakdown in respect of the value of loans issued under the Shared Ownership scheme.

There are no plans at this time to develop a new Shared Ownership scheme. Affordable housing for purchase, on public lands, is being brought forward under a form of shared equity, as provided for under Part 5 of the Housing ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (545)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

545. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of low cost housing sites sold since the inception of the low cost site scheme per annum, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38411/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Local authority housing scheme statistics are published on my Department's website, including data in relation to the Sale of Sites Scheme. Under this scheme, a local authority may make housing sites available at low cost.

Data relating to activity under the Sale of Sites Scheme in the period 2004 to 2018 in tabular form is available on my Department's website at the following web link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.

Referendum Campaigns

Ceisteanna (546)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

546. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to hold a referendum on reducing the voting age to 16 years of age prior to or on the same day as the next general election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

At its meeting on 4 December 2018, the Government reviewed further the progress on the overall programme of Bills to amend the Constitution. Having regard to other referenda that are proposed to be progressed in the short term and having particular regard to the heavy legislative programme scheduled for 2019 arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the Government agreed that further consideration would have to be given to the timing of a referendum on reducing the voting age to 16.

While the Government remains committed to the holding of a referendum to reduce the voting age to 16 years across all elections, no decision has been taken at this point in time on a date for the holding of the referendum other than it is not proposed that it will be held this year.

Rental Sector

Ceisteanna (547)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

547. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to an issue of rent discrepancy on the Laois and Carlow border (details supplied). [38438/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The housing to which the Deputy refers is leased by an Approved Housing Body (AHB). Payment and Availability Agreements in respect of each dwelling have been signed between the AHB and the particular local authority making the tenant allocation in respect of that dwelling. There are two local authorities involved in the referenced development.

It is a term of the agreement between the AHB and the local authorities involved that the AHB agrees to charge, collect and retain from the occupants of the dwellings the rent calculated in accordance with the relevant local authority’s Differential Rent Scheme. The two local authorities involved have different differential rent schemes and the calculation of rent is therefore different.

Local authorities have been able to make their own rent schemes since 1986 and different approaches have been taken to rent charging and setting across the country. There are currently 36 differential rents schemes in operation nationwide. This may result in a situation where housing authority tenants living quite close to each other, and having similar incomes, are paying different rents because they reside in different administrative areas. This is a feature of the local government system and of the fact that rent setting is currently a matter for each housing authority.

While the case of one development straddling a county border may be unusual, it is not, in principle, different from other situations where tenants on the same income pay different rents.

Considerable work has been carried out by my Department in developing a draft national differential rents framework for the purposes of section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Such a framework has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents, including a set of standardised income disregards, whilst retaining the general principle of rents relating to household income.

This work is now being examined further in the light of the broader commitment given in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, to review the disparate systems of differential rent for social housing in place across local authorities. The overall objective is to ensure that housing supports are fair and sustainable and prioritise those on lowest incomes. I expect that the review will be completed in the near future.

Housing Assistance Payment

Ceisteanna (548)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

548. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities that have appointed a HAP pathfinder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38454/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the Homeless HAP Place Finder Service.

The Place Finder Service is a targeted support for homeless households who are finding it difficult to secure HAP tenancies and has been successfully utilised by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) across the 4 Dublin local authorities since February 2015. The Place Finder Service assists homeless households in exiting emergency accommodation, primarily by sourcing suitable accommodation and by providing access to the payment of a deposit and up to two months advance rent, within the HAP limits, on the behalf of the HAP recipient

It has been rolled out nationally, across all local authorities, with effect from January 2018 and all local authorities are entitled to apply for approval for a dedicated resource. It should be noted that a local authority does not need to have a dedicated Place Finder personnel resource in place to utilise the Homeless HAP structures such as deposit and advance rent.

More than 6,200 households have been supported by the Homeless HAP scheme in the Dublin region up to the end of Q2, 2019. Nationally, the corresponding figure was over 8,100 households.

My Department has, to date, approved funding for the appointment of 23 Place Finders. Currently, there are 22 Place Finders operating out of 24 local authorities. Other local authorities indicated that they are satisfied with their existing homeless service. The operation of local homeless services, including the Place Finder Service, is a matter for each local authority.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Local Authorities with a Place Finder Service

Carlow County Council

Clare County Council

Cork City Council

Cork County Council

Dublin City Council

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

Fingal County Council

Galway City Council

Galway County Council

Kerry County Council

Kildare County Council

Kilkenny County Council

Laois County Council - shared resource with Offaly County Council.

Limerick City & County Council

Longford County Council - shared resource with Westmeath County Council.

Meath County Council

Offaly County Council - shared resource with Laois County Council.

Sligo County Council

South Dublin County Council

Tipperary County Council

Waterford City & County Council

Westmeath County Council - shared resource with Longford County Council.

Wexford County Council

Wicklow County Council

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (549, 550)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

549. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of pre-committed expenditure for the serviced site fund in 2020, 2021 and 2022. [38491/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

550. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the budget 2019 announcement of an additional €300 million in the serviced site fund over three years is pre-committed expenditure in each of the years concerned or if it will be announced separately as part of each budget. [38492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 549 and 550 together.

As part of budget 2019 the Government has confirmed an overall allocation of €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) in order to support the delivery of more affordable homes to buy or rent. This funding is being made available to local authorities to provide infrastructure support which will thereafter allow for the delivery of over 6,000 homes at prices with a significant discount on open market rates.

Over the period from 2019 to 2021, the available Exchequer contribution to the Serviced Site Fund will be €275 million, with €35 million to be contributed by local authorities. Over the course of this multi-annual funding stream, local authorities will be invited to submit project applications under periodic ‘Calls for Proposals’. Two calls have been made under the fund to date and details of all successful projects are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following links:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/.

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/ .

In summary, Approval in Principle has been granted to 35 projects and funding of approximately €127 million, to support the delivery of almost 3,200 homes. While more focused on urban areas, and building at scale on local authority sites, the Fund remains in place for the provision of housing in all locations where there is a proven affordability challenge. Further calls under the Serviced Sites Fund will be made in due course.

Any budgetary decisions relating to the period after 2021 will be a matter for the Government at that time.

Mayoral Election

Ceisteanna (551)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

551. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of preparations for the establishment of the office and elections for the position of directly elected mayor of Limerick City and County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The people of Limerick City and County decided in a plebiscite held on 24 May 2019 to support the Government's proposals for a directly elected mayor with executive functions for their Council area. Work is now well underway on the necessary preparatory work to deliver on the will of the people of Limerick.

Under Section 44 of the Local Government Act 2019, the Minister is required to prepare and submit to the Houses of the Oireachtas a report with legislative proposals for a directly elected mayor for Limerick, within two years of the plebiscite vote, i.e. 24 May 2021. However, my Department is prioritising this work with a view to bringing the report and legislative proposals forward at the earliest opportunity, targeting an election for directly elected mayor of Limerick City and County Council in 2021.

There is now significant work underway within my Department to analyse systematically all legislation under the Department's responsibility conferring functions and powers on local authority chief executives. A similar exercise has also commenced within other Government Departments. An inter-Departmental working group has been established and met earlier this month to advance the project.

As part of the process, I also intend to establish an implementation advisory group, comprising representatives of the key stakeholders in Limerick, particularly the elected Council and management of Limerick City and County Council, to advise on the implementation of the mandate given by the people of Limerick. I expect this Group will meet for the first time in the second half of October.

Housing Adaptation Grant

Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 536.

Ceisteanna (552)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

552. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the provision of storage heating will be considered in the housing aid for older people scheme in view of climate action and the move away from oil fuelled central heating. [38581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, support is provided in certain precise circumstances where an older person has no heating system in their home and requires it to remain living in their own home. My Department does not specify the type of heating system other than by reference to Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Energy – Dwellings), which sets the performance requirements for new or replacement heating systems. This could include storage heaters on the basis that they comply with Part L requirements with regard to minimum efficiency requirements, the required level of heat retention and appropriate controls on heat output.

Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 536.

Foreshore Issues

Ceisteanna (554)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

554. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the regulatory position regarding the machine cleaning of beaches by local authorities, and-or their contractors; if local authorities and-or their contractors must apply for and secure a foreshore licence for the machine cleaning of beaches; if there are particular measures required if the beach falls within a special area of conservation, special conservation area or natural heritage area; his Department’s role in regulating this activity in accordance with the Foreshore Acts 1933 to 2014 and other relevant legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38612/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The compliance with all relevant legislative or regulatory provisions is a matter in the first instance for the individual, company or local authority undertaking work.

Section 3 of the Foreshore Act provides for the licencing of removal or disturbance of beach material from State Owned Foreshore, the area from the mean high water mark to the seaward limit of the territorial seas, where it is in the public interest to do so. Section 6 of the Act provides for the making of prohibitory orders where in the Minister's opinion removal and/or disturbance of beach material should be prohibited.

Where a foreshore licence is applied for, as part of my determination, I must ensure compliance with the relevant National and European legislative requirements.

Water Services

Ceisteanna (555)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

555. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is grant aid available to drill a private water well. [38743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

There is a grant currently available, which is funded by my Department through the local authorities, for the provision or necessary improvement of an individual water supply in a house. This is more commonly called the individual or private wells grant.

The grant, subject to certain conditions, assists households dependent on these supplies with the costs incurred in providing such a supply of water for domestic purposes or rectifying serious deficiencies with an existing supply.

Earlier this year I announced details of the new Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included an improved funding scheme for individual wells.

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The changes that I have approved to the individual wells grant scheme are as follows:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000, which represents an increase of 47% on the current maximum grant amount;

- Where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well, the maximum grant payable would be €5,000;

- Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and UV filtration) will qualify for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000;

- Up to 85% of other costs would be met, subject to the total combined maximum costs of €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well;

- For clarity, applicants would not be able to avail of both grant amounts, so they would not be able to avail of €3,000 for well rehabilitation as well as the €5,000 for a new well.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the new scheme. I expect that the process will be completed shortly when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Information on the existing grant scheme is available from local authorities and from my Department's website at the following link. This will be updated once the new scheme comes into operation.

https://www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-services/rural-water-programme/private-wells.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (556)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

556. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will work with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to ensure that the apartments at a location (details supplied) that are the subject of eviction cases by an organisation are brought into public ownership in order to secure homes for these tenants, four of which are HAP tenancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38763/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Acquisition of a property for social housing is a matter for each local authority to consider on a case by case basis. Households on HAP are given the opportunity when coming into the scheme to indicate whether they have an interest in going onto a transfer list for local authority or Approved Housing Body owned housing. Allocations to such housing are in accordance with the relevant local authority's allocation scheme.

Under HAP, a tenant sources their own accommodation in the private rented market. The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended). Where a tenancy is ending, the household will need to seek alternative accommodation in the private rented market. If a household encounters challenges in securing alternative accommodation, my Department has put both financial and personnel resources in place in local authorities to assist through the HAP Placefinder.

In relation to the provision of HAP in the specified location, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has confirmed that they are presently supporting three HAP tenancies at that location and that the Council has not, to date, had any contact from those tenants in respect of eviction notices or notices of termination.

As regards evictions, as you will be aware, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019, with one of its key functions being to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Due to the quasi-judicial and independent role of the RTB, it would be inappropriate for me, as Minister, to intervene in specific disputes.

A number of measures have been introduced in recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants under the Residential Tenancies Acts. Section 34 of the 2004 Act provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served, in accordance with the allowable grounds for terminations. Through an amendment introduced in 2016, where a landlord proposes to sell 10 or more units within a single development at the same time, that sale is subject to the existing tenants remaining in situ, other than in exceptional circumstances. In addition, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she intends to sell the property, he/she must enter into a contract for sale within 9 months of the termination date and, if not, must offer to re-let to a former tenant who provides their contact details.

The 2019 Act also provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she needs vacant possession to substantially refurbish/renovate the property, that property must be offered back to the former tenant who provides their contact details, upon completion of the works. Also, such a termination notice must contain or be accompanied by a written certificate of a registered professional under the Building Control Act 2007, such as an architect or surveyor, stating that the proposed substantial refurbishment/renovation works would pose a health and safety risk necessitating vacation by the tenants and that such a risk would be likely to exist for at least 3 weeks.

The 2019 Act provides additional powers for the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct, including non-compliance with the tenancy termination provisions. My Department will continue to keep the effectiveness and enforcement of the security of tenure provisions in the Acts under review.

Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (557)

John Curran

Ceist:

557. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that the minimum annual target of 25,000 homes to be built will be reached for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38779/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Among the targets set in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness was a target to secure a doubling of housing output to 25,000 homes p.a. by 2020.

Housing is, and will remain, a top priority for the Government. The CSO reports there were 18,016 new dwelling completions in Ireland in 2018, up 25% on 2017. When account is taken of the 817 homes completed in unfinished housing developments and the 2,627 homes that were vacant for at least two years and have been returned to use, the overall number of new homes becoming available for use in 2018 was 21,460, without counting the new student bed spaces that were also brought in during that time.

The number of residential completions for 2019 will not be known until early 2020. However, trends indicate the continued expansion of supply. For example, in the year to end June 2019, the number of new homes becoming available for use increased further to 22,609. In the same period, the number of new homes in respect of which commencement notices were served reached 24,226, a 29% year on year increase. Furthermore, the rolling annual total of planning permissions for residential dwellings has exceeded 30,000 units for the first time since early 2010, up more than 21% year on year. There has been particularly strong growth in apartment planning permissions, which is very welcome given the policy thrust toward more compact urban growth.

This data provides confidence that the increasing trend in new homes delivery will continue and that the target set in that regard in Rebuilding Ireland will be achieved, supported by a range of supply-focused actions, such as streamlined and updated planning arrangements, investments in infrastructure and new apartment development and heights guidelines, are delivering results.

Rent Pressure Zones

Ceisteanna (558)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

558. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Athy, County Kildare, will be included as a rent pressure zone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Section 24A of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended, provides that the Housing Agency, in consultation with housing authorities, may make a proposal to the Minister that an area should be considered for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone. Following receipt of such a proposal, the Minister requests the Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to conduct an assessment of the area to establish whether or not it meets the criteria for designation and to report to the Minister on whether the area should be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone. For the purpose of the Act, ‘area’ is defined as either the administrative area of a housing authority or a local electoral area within the meaning of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001.

Previously, for an area to be designated a Rent Pressure Zone, it must have satisfied the criteria set out in section 24A(4) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as inserted by section 36 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016), as follows:

(i) the annual rate of rent inflation in the area must have been 7% or more in four of the last six quarters; and

(ii) the average rent for tenancies registered in the area with the RTB in the last quarter must be above the average national rent (i.e the National Standardised Rent in the RTB’s Rent Index Report) in the last quarter (€1,169.12 per month in Q1 2019).

However, on 30 May 2019, I signed the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2019 which appointed 31 May 2019 and 4 June 2019 as the dates on which specified provisions of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect, including provisions in respect of the average rent qualifying criterion for RPZ designation. Specifically, in relation to criteria (ii) above, the rent of a dwelling in the Greater Dublin Area (Kildare, Wicklow and Meath) will now be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding Dublin rents; and the rent of a dwelling outside of the Greater Dublin Area will be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding Greater Dublin Area rents.

Each quarterly RTB Rent Index Report includes a summary in Table 9 of the data used to establish whether each Local Electoral Area fulfils the criteria for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone. This ensures transparency in relation to the position of individual areas in terms of average rent levels and increases. The quarterly Rent Index Reports are available to view on the RTB's website at the following link: https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/news/latest-data-from-rtb-quarterly-rent-index-2.

Further information on Rent Pressure Zones and designations is available on my Department's website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/PUBLICATIONS, by searching 'rent pressure zones - information'.

While rental inflation in the Athy LEA has been above 7% in 4 of the last 6 quarters, the standardised average rent in Athy in Q1 2019 was €801.55, which is below the Non-Dublin Standardised Average Rent of €879.25 per month, thereby not satisfying the criteria for designation as an RPZ.

Rent Pressure Zones

Ceisteanna (559)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

559. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Monasterevin, County Kildare, will be included as a rent pressure zone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Kildare- Newbridge Local Electoral Area (LEA) was designated a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) on 27 January 2017 under section 24 of the Residential Tenancies Acts (2004-2019). Subsequently, the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee No 1 Report in 2018 recommended that Monasterevin be moved from the Athy LEA (which is not a designated Rent Pressure Zone) to a newly created Kildare LEA. New LEAs and Municipal Districts for County Kildare, which gave effect to this recommendation, were signed into law on 19 December 2018 through the County of Kildare Local Electoral Areas and Municipal Districts Order 2018.

However, Section 24A(6) or the Residential Tenancies Acts provides that ‘Where a local electoral area is prescribed by order as an RPZ and, subsequently, any local electoral areas are duly amended in a manner that affects the area of the local electoral area so prescribed, then the order shall continue to have effect as if the local electoral area concerned had not been so amended.’

Therefore, under Section 24A(6), areas already designated as RPZs will remain designated and areas that are not designated will retain their current undesignated status and as such will not become a RPZ by virtue of the change to the boundary. Monasterevin, which was previously in an undesignated LEA, therefore remained undesignated.

Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 the expiry date of all deemed and designated RPZs is extended to 31 December 2021.

Local Authority Funding

Ceisteanna (560)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

560. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the month the report on the local government funding baseline review was completed; and when he plans to publish same. [38869/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In May 2018, a Local Government Funding (Baseline) Review Group was established to consider the methodology to determine local authority funding baselines, to inform the distribution of any additional funding that could become available for general, operational purposes.

Recommendations were received from the Review Group in August 2018 and these fall to be considered in the context of the review of Local Property Tax (LPT) undertaken by the Department of Finance. When the ongoing process in relation to the consideration of that Review of LPT is concluded by the Department of Finance, the work of the Baseline Review Group will be considered further and the issue of publication of the Review Group's recommendations will be considered at that stage.