Seanad debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Tenant Purchase Scheme

10:30 am

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Gallagher for raising these issues. Unfortunately, the Minister, Deputy O'Brien, sends his apologies, as these issues are directly under his area of responsibility.

The tenant (incremental) purchase scheme 2016 for local authority housing is underpinned by Part 3 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 and the associated Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015. The scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The 2015 regulations governing the scheme provide for a number of specified classes of houses to be excluded from sale under the scheme, including houses provided to local authorities, as rightly pointed out by the Senator, under Part 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. In addition, it excludes houses specifically designed for older persons, group Traveller housing, and houses provided to facilitate people with disabilities transferring from institutional care to community-based living.

The provisions of Part 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, are designed to enable the development of mixed tenure sustainable communities. Under the terms of the tenant purchase scheme 2016, Part 5 homes, regardless of when they were tenanted, are excluded to ensure that homes delivered under this mechanism will remain available for people in need of social housing support and that the original policy goals of the legislation are not eroded over time.

The continued development of mixed tenure communities remains very important in promoting social integration. Local authorities may also, within the provisions of the regulations,

exclude certain houses which, in the opinion of the authority, should not be sold for reasons such as proper stock or estate management. It is a matter for each individual local authority to administer the scheme in its operational area in line with the over-arching provisions of the governing legislation for the scheme, and in a manner appropriate to its

housing requirements.

A review of the first 12 months of the scheme's operation has been undertaken. The specific issue raised in respect of Part 5 properties has come to the Department's attention as part of the review. The programme for government commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home with reforms envisaged to the current scheme including a requirement that the tenant has been in situin the home for at least ten years, a reduction in the discount to a maximum of 25% and to ensure that local authorities have the first call on the purchase.The programme for Government also contains a commitment to putting affordability at the heart of the housing system, prioritising the increased supply of public, social and affordable homes and increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. These, and the many other housing-related commitments, are the areas the Department is focusing on right now and they will be the subject of a fresh plan for housing that the Minister intends to publish later this year.

The review of the tenant (incremental) purchase scheme 2016 and the commitments in the programme for Government are being examined as part of the work on the broader social housing reform agenda. The Minister expects to be in a position to finalise changes to the scheme once the work on these reform measures is complete.


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