The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) and the Buy and Renew Scheme were developed to assist private property owners and local authorities or approved housing bodies (AHBs) to harness the accommodation potential that exists in certain vacant dwellings across Ireland. In addition, both new and second-hand dwellings can be used to deliver social housing support under my Department's long term leasing programmes.
The RLS is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their properties up to the required standard for rental purposes. Subject to the suitability of the property for social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the relevant local authority or an AHB. As part of the agreement, the property owner then leases the dwelling to the local authority for use as social housing for a length that is linked to the value of the repairs but subject to a minimum of 5 years. The value of the repairs is offset incrementally against the agreed rental payment over a defined period within the lease.
Further funding is provided to local authorities to acquire a range of properties for social housing use. The properties involved can range from those in good condition to those that need remediation and may have been vacant. To ensure a local-led response to such work, responsibility for property acquisitions is delegated to local authorities. To further assist local authorities pursuing vacant properties, funding is available through the Buy & Renew Scheme to facilitate local authorities in acquiring and remediating vacant properties that may be suitable for social housing. As with standard acquisitions, local authorities have delegated responsibility to utilise the Buy and Renew Scheme, as part of the blend of property acquisitions, as appropriate to their area, given housing need and the availability of properties of different types.
Under the long term leasing programme, a local authority or AHB leases a dwelling from a private owner under a long-term lease for between 10 and 25 years. The dwelling is then sub-let to a social housing tenant. The local authority, or AHB, is the landlord to the social housing tenant and carries out all landlord obligations.
The RLS, Buy and Renew and long term leasing schemes are available in all local authorities, in both rural and urban areas. However, it is a condition of entry into all 3 schemes that the property is in an area with a social housing need and fulfils social housing demand.
Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland , in the region of 553 vacant homes have been re-introduced to the liveable housing stock, primarily through the Repair and Leasing, and Buy and Renew initiatives. Local authorities are also working hard to bring homes back into use by acquiring dwellings in unfinished estates, liaising with financial institutions on their vacant property portfolios and utilising CPO powers to acquire empty properties. These recovered properties aid in the ongoing effort to meeting our commitments under Pillar 5 of Rebuilding Ireland, which sets out a range of measures to assist in meeting Ireland’s housing needs by ensuring that Ireland’s existing housing stock is used to the greatest extent possible.