Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Ceisteanna (768, 769)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

768. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the income threshold set by him for the first cost of rental properties; the way in which he plans to set income thresholds in different local authority areas; when these will be announced; if a person’s existing housing need will be a factor determining eligibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41108/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

769. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the sub-market charge to be made under individual cost rental projects will be determined according to an agreed methodology; the person or body by which this will be conducted in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41109/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 768 and 769 together.

Cost Rental housing, in which the rent is set to cover the cost of provision of homes, is an entirely new housing sector in Ireland. It is not intended to overlap with or replace existing social housing supports for low-income households, which remain a parallel priority for the Government. Cost Rental is rather intended to support households with moderate income, above the limits for social housing eligibility. 

The Affordable Housing Act 2021, which was signed into law on 21 July, provides in Section 31 that the Minister may use Regulations to prescribe, among other things, "eligibility requirements in respect of tenants". This will be be necessary to ensure that Cost Rental homes, of which there will finite stock in the initial delivery phase, are accessible to the intended target cohort. The use of Regulations will allow the eligibility criteria to be set in flexible way, open to revision and updating over time.

It will be the role of the Cost Rental landlord to implement any prescribed eligibility criteria for tenants and their households, which will mean checking that tenants are eligible before they are offered tenancy contracts. In the case of the very first Cost Rental homes, the 25 houses at Balbriggan, Fingal launched on 7 July 2021, the landlord will be Clúid Housing, which is an Approved Housing Body supported by my Department's new Cost Rental Equity Loan scheme. Clúid has advertised a household net income limit of €53,000 for these homes, in advance of the enactment of the Affordable Housing Act and the making of consequent Regulations, in order to ensure that tenants can apply in good time and be accommodated in these new homes as soon as possible.

In advance of advertisement, Clúid and my Department together with the Housing Agency, had engaged extensively to ensure that these homes are let to the target cohort of moderate-income households above the social housing eligibility thresholds. The intention is that these homes will be brought under the statutory framework for Cost Rental, now that the Affordable Housing Act has been signed into law.

The full framework of Regulations that will govern this new housing sector will be prepared and introduced over the coming weeks. These will include setting an income limit for the Cost Rental sector as a whole, which will naturally be informed by the experience of Clúid Housing in letting the very first Cost Rental homes at Balbriggan. While there is potential for income limits to vary from region to region and this may be addressed in the future, the initial focus is on making an entirely new form of housing as easy as possible to understand and deliver. Aside from the identified affordability constraint, it is not envisaged that "existing housing need" will be a factor in the same sense that it is for social housing, since Cost Rental is intended to be a fundamentally different housing tenure targeting a different cohort. However, as per the legislation, it is intended that Cost Rental landlords will have regard to the size and composition of a household when considering it for a particular Cost Rental home.

In relation to the "sub-market charge to be made under individual cost rental projects", I assume the Deputy is referring to the cost rents that will be charged for each home. As per Part 3 of the Affordable Housing Act, the initial maximum rent for each home to be designated as a Cost Rental dwelling will be set and agreed during the application process for designation. This is a result of modelling the costs of provision, financing, maintaining and managing the home over a 40-year period, and is not linked to the open market rent for the home. The detail of the designation process will be set out further in regulations, but the Cost Rental designation itself will be formally issued by me, as Minister. 

Question No. 769 answered with Question No. 768.