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Housing Schemes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (231, 239, 240, 243)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

231. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to a company (details supplied) that is leasing homes long-term to local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58195/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

239. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if a person can choose to enter into a mortgage to rent scheme through their local authority or through a subletting agreement through a private company. [58196/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

240. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of long-term lease agreements entered into with a company (details supplied) by local authority in tabular form. [58198/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

243. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason his Department is sanctioning mortgage to rent leasing with a company (details supplied). [58202/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 231, 239, 240 and 243 together.

The Mortgage to Rent (MTR) scheme introduced in 2012 is targeted at supporting households in mortgage arrears who have had their mortgage position deemed unsustainable by their lender under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP); agree to the voluntary surrender of their home and are deemed eligible for social housing support. The property in question must also meet certain eligibility criteria. The concept of the scheme is that a household with an unsustainable mortgage goes from being a homeowner to being a social housing tenant. The borrower surrenders their property to their lender who sells it to a MTR provider which can be either an Approved Housing Body (AHB) or since 2018 a private company, Home for Life Ltd. The AHB or local authority (in the case where the property is sold to a private company) becomes the landlord and the borrower remains in the property as a tenant paying a differential rent to the landlord based on his or her income.

To the end of September 2021, 1497 households with unsustainable private mortgages have completed the MTR scheme since its introduction nationally in 2013. The 1497 households in the scheme represent 2460 adults and 2091 children who have remained living in their homes and communities. There are currently 850 active cases being progressed under the scheme.

A review of the MTR scheme in 2017 taking account of capacity within the AHB sector given that sector's role in delivering ambitious targets around new social housing supply, also recommended that alternative funding options, including the off-balance sheet potential of private institutional investment, be explored in order to allow the MTR scheme to deliver at scale. An Expressions of Interest (EOI) Request issued in 2017 inviting parties from the private sector to express their interest in participating in a new alternatively funded long-term MTR lease model. The outcome from the EOI process is that a new MTR alternatively funded lease model was announced in 2018 with Home for Life Ltd. as the participant from the private sector.

Under this alternatively funded model, Home for Life Ltd. purchases properties from lenders subsequent to their voluntary surrender by borrowers that meet the MTR eligibility criteria and then enters into a long-term 25 year lease arrangement with the local authority in whose area the property is situated for a defined term at an agreed rent, thereby enabling the borrower to remain living in their own home under a tenancy agreement with the local authority. Home for Life Ltd. is also responsible for managing and maintaining the property on behalf of the local authority in accordance with the lease requirements. The number of MTR cases completed by Home for Life Ltd. broken down by local authority area is detailed in the attached table.

Where an eligible borrower is proposed for the scheme by their lender, the MTR provider that their case will be assigned to depends on a number of factors:

- if a particular MTR provider has an agreement with the lender to purchase properties in which case the property will be assigned to the MTR provider concerned;

- where no such agreement exists, the Housing Agency will invite MTR providers to express an interest in a property and will assign the property to the MTR provider who expresses an interest;

- if both an AHB and Home for Life express an interest in the property, the lender will inform the borrower and the borrower may choose the MTR provider;

- if more than one AHB expresses an interest in the property, the Housing Agency will assign the property to an AHB by way of a random selection process.

Regardless of who the property owner is under the MTR scheme, AHB or Home for Life Ltd., the local authority is obliged to meet the housing needs of social housing tenants indefinitely and beyond the term of the applicable lease arrangement.

AHBs are an integral part of the MTR scheme and their participation in the scheme has enabled and continues to enable a significant number of borrowers to remain in their homes as social housing tenants.

The inclusion of an MTR provider from the private sector has facilitated more individuals and families staying in their homes. Given the sizeable cohort of borrowers still in long-term mortgage arrears, all the MTR providers participating in the scheme are needed in order to meet the demand for the scheme. In all scenarios, my Department and the Housing Agency are focused on meeting the long-term housing needs of the greatest number of households in unsustainable mortgage arrears.

The Programme for Government and Housing for All includes a commitment to strengthen the Mortgage to Rent Scheme and ensure that it is helping those who need it. Building on the significant improvements already made to the scheme since 2017, my Department is currently working closely with the Housing Agency and key stakeholders to identify any further improvements required to the scheme. As set out in Housing For All, the review of the MTR scheme is scheduled to be delivered in Q4 of this year and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement shortly.

Table: MTR cases completed by Home for Life to Q3 2021

Local Authority

Complete

Carlow County Council

15

Cavan County Council

8

Clare County Council

17

Cork City Council

13

Cork County Council

29

Donegal County Council

9

Dublin City Council

21

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

3

Fingal County Council

27

Galway City Council

1

Galway County Council

10

Kerry County Council

10

Kildare County Council

30

Kilkenny County Council

19

Laois County Council

17

Leitrim County Council

6

Limerick City and County Council

23

Longford County Council

4

Louth County Council

29

Mayo County Council

16

Meath County Council

35

Monaghan County Council

7

Offaly County Council

20

Roscommon County Council

8

Sligo County Council

11

South Dublin County Council

20

Tipperary County Council

32

Waterford City and County Council

31

Westmeath County Council

22

Wexford County Council

26

Wicklow County Council

27

Grand Total

546

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