Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)

 

9:30 am

Photo of John CumminsJohn Cummins (Fine Gael)

I can see what the amendment is trying to achieve. In the interest of aligning policy we should consider amendment No. 58, in particular, which references a 40-year period. My reason for saying so concerns the cost-rental equity loan, which is in place for approved housing bodies to provide cost-rental homes. Eight sites have been identified to provide 430 cost-rental units this year. They are over a 40-year period so there is probably a mismatch between the legislation concerning 30-year and 40-year periods.

I wish to make a related point concerning the calculation of the discount on market rent, particularly in regional cities outside Dublin, and how the Housing Finance Agency calculates the market rent.An elongated period of 40 years would perhaps allow us to lower the rents for people in those areas to provide a discount on market rents. That is what the Minister is trying to achieve, a 25% discount on market rents. More transparency is needed in respect of how the Housing Finance Agency determines the market rent in cities. I do not believe the figures are reflective of the actual market. To take my own city of Waterford, what has been determined to be the market rent is less than the actual market rent. Therefore, when one tries to calculate the discount, one cannot make it financially viable. I do not expect the Minister of State to have the answer with him right now but transparency is needed in that regard. In order to align the policy in respect of the cost-rental equity loan, it may be worth considering extending the relevant period to 40 years.

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