Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (628)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

628. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of acquisitions by the Housing Agency under funding to find and acquire suitable portfolios of vacant properties per annum. [50063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A key priority in the Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is to provide direct capital funding to the Housing Agency to facilitate the acquisition of suitable portfolios of properties for social housing from financial institutions and investors (Actions 1.1, 2.5 and 5.6).

An acquisitions fund of €70 million, which is a revolving fund, was established with effect from 1 January 2017 with the objective of acquiring some 1,600 units over the period to 2020 for social housing use. This has enabled the Housing Agency to actively engage with banks and investment companies in relation to the acquisitions of properties. The fund is replenished by the Agency through the sale of units primarily to the Approved Housing Body (AHB) sector and the funds received will then be recycled back into the fund for future acquisitions.

This is intended to be a short term to medium term initiative, targeting the vacant property portfolios of financial institutions and investment companies and is a direct response to the current shortage that would be designed to complement, not displace, ongoing targeted acquisition activity by local authorities and AHBs. Through the provision of direct access to capital funding for the Housing Agency, the aim is to simplify the current acquisition process for vacant portfolio purchases; speed up the process and to encourage investors to make additional supply available.

Up to end Q2 2019, a total of 645 properties had been purchased by the Agency using the Fund and placed on caretaker leases. In addition, a further 63 properties are in the process of proceeding to purchase close or being placed on caretaker leases or transferred to Local Authorities, which is close to 50% of its original objective of the Fund. The onward sale of 322 of these units to AHBs has been completed in full.

The year by year breakdown as reported for Rebuilding Ireland is as follows:

Year

No. of units made available to AHBs

2017

36

2018

481

2019 (up to end Q2)

128

In addition to the above, and in order to maximise the number of vacant properties held by financial institutions that could be harnessed for social housing, the Housing Agency is separately engaging on an agent basis with financial institutions and local authorities. To end Q2 2019 a total of 283 properties have been bought directly by local authorities from these institutions, with a further 146 proceeding through to sale.

This effectively means that in total, more than 1,000 properties held by financial institutions have been brought back into use for social housing since 2016 as a result of the intervention of the Housing Agency more generally.