Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)

 

9:30 am

Photo of Rebecca MoynihanRebecca Moynihan (Labour)

I move amendment No. 69:

In page 35, to delete lines 11 to 13 and substitute the following: “(1) In setting, at any particular time, the rent under a cost rental tenancy, a rent shall not be provided for that is greater than—
(a) the cost rental rent for that dwelling specified in subsection (4), or

(b) 30 per cent of the figure published by the Central Statistics Office as average net income in respect of the previous year,

whichever is the lower.”.

This is in a similar vein to some other amendments, particularly those relating to affordable housing, in that it is getting to the nub of what affordability is and trying to actually pin down in legislation the concept of affordability. Essentially, this is about affordability for cost rental tenancies and trying to ensure that cost rental tenancies have a cross-section of incomes within them but that the tenants will be spending one third of their income on the cost rental tenancies. Through accepting the amendment extending the term from 30 years to 40 years, for which I very much thank the Minister of State, we have the ability to bring down the cost of cost rental tenancies and what is going to be charged for them. It is also important that, within cost rental, it is somewhat similar to differential rent in that we are trying to tie it to income because people may lose their jobs or end up getting a pension and we want to make sure that cost rental remains affordable rental.

I will comment briefly on limited profit because I was not present when it was debated. There is actually no impediment to limited profit associations building housing on a cost rental basis now, even without it being legislated for. However, the Government funded and supported cost rental should not allow for limited profits. Key to that is ensuring that the rents paid by those in cost rental are affordable using the metric adopted by most outside agencies, that is, approximately one third of net income. Colleagues have tabled similar amendments. We have discussed this previously. I ask the Government to consider re-orientating the Bill away from being a market discount Bill and towards being a truly affordable housing Bill that will service us for the next 100 years rather than a short-term measure that is referred to as affordable but is actually market discount.

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