Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
355. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if the criteria which is currently applied to retained fire fighters income when they are looking for a mortgage will be reviewed to take into account all income given the retainer and a two-hour weekly drill are their only reckonable earnings. [44518/20]
356. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if the criteria will be reviewed for retained fire fighters when applying for a Rebuilding Ireland mortgage in view of the fact they are just above the threshold and earning too much to qualify for social housing. [44519/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 and 356 together.
In relation to the Deputy's first question each commerical lender would have their own lending policies in place and the treatment of firefighters' income would be a commercial decision for each bank. Commerical lenders are a matter for the Minister for Finance.
However, under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which is the mortgage product that I have responsibility for, single applicants applying for the loan must not be earning greater than €50,000 gross per annum and the combined income of joint applicants must not be greater than €75,000 gross per annum. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources.
The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Housing Agency recommendations are then considered by the Credit Committee in each local authority, which issues loan approvals.
The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis. Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure consistency of treatment for all applicants.
Each local authority must have in place a Credit Committee and it is a matter for the Committee to make the final decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, and having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.
I have asked the Housing Agency how income such as in the situation of a retained firefighter is assessed. They have confirmed that generally such income would be taken into account in the loan application process. The extent to which such income counts towards repayment capacity depends on the specifics of each situation, in particular how long the applicant has been in the role.