Seanad debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Tenant Purchase Scheme

10:30 am

Photo of Robbie GallagherRobbie Gallagher (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit chuig an Teach ar maidin. The Minister is very welcome to the House and I thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to discuss this important matter. Most people and most families would like, where possible, to own their own homes. That is a credible and laudable ambition for most people. Not everyone will want to do so, but for those who do, it is important that the Government does all it can to encourage home ownership. Unfortunately, for people who currently live in Part V social housing, the option of purchasing their own home does not exist. That is very disappointing and clearly discriminates against those who wish to purchase their own home. I have been contacted by many people, as I am sure the Minister of State has, who would like to purchase their own home.Apparently 4,000 people throughout the country are affected by this. In my own county of Monaghan and in Cavan, there are approximately 160 families who invested money in their homes and properties, doing them up and looking after them. They are heartbroken at the news that they cannot buy out their own house. They are stuck in an awful position.

I have raised this issue, as have many others, including the Cathaoirleach Gníomhach, over the past number of years and have been told that this particular tenant purchase scheme has been under review since 2016. The Minister of State does not need me to tell him that this is now 2021 and we still await the findings of that review. The programme for Government contains a rejig of the social housing scheme in general and that is very much welcome. Can a number of issues be addressed for people within that scheme? One is the Part 5 situation, where people can buy out their homes.

Another cohort of people who are looked after by social housing bodies is also affected. These social housing bodies have been a vehicle that the Government has used to supply much-needed housing, which is very welcome. However, the those families who are in those homes and who wish to buy them out are precluded from doing so.

The other issue which one would hope would form part of the review and which needs to be addressed is the income limits for people to initially qualify for social housing. Currently, in the part of the world I come from, and I am sure it is somewhat similar in the Minister of State's area, the threshold for a single person is something in the region of €25,000 while for a young couple, the ceiling is only €26,250. That is an income of approximately €13,000 each, which is totally out of kilter with where the real world is at.

Those are a couple of issues on which I hope the Minister of State may have some positive news for us and which will be addressed as part of this review. I look forward to his comments in that regard.


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