Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Part 4 of the Affordable Housing Act 2021 provides for the establishment of the ‘First Home’ affordable purchase shared equity scheme to support purchases in the private market. The Scheme aims to support c. 8,000 households in acquiring new homes in the private market in the years 2022 to 2026.
First Home will help applicants to afford new homes in the private market through the use of an equity share model, similar to that employed in the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme. The Scheme will primarily support First Time Buyers in the purchase of new homes within designated regional price ceilings, set with reference to the median prices for new homes purchased by first-time buyers in the area.
Subject to the necessary final approvals process of all founders to the scheme, which will see the State operate the scheme in a strategic partnership with participating mortgage lenders, it is anticipated that First Home will become operational in the coming weeks. Full information, including full eligibility criteria and regional price ceilings for homes, will be available on the First Home website upon the Scheme’s launch.
253. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if urgent steps will be taken to resolve an issue with a HAP payment to a landlord for a person (details supplied) given that they are at risk of imminent homelessness if the issue with the HAP collections team is not resolved urgently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31914/22]
Tenants in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme are required to sign a rent contribution agreement to pay a weekly rental contribution to the relevant local authority, in line with the local authority’s differential rent scheme. As set out in the rent contribution agreement, this weekly rental contribution must be paid by them so that they remain eligible for the HAP scheme.
The HAP Shared Services Centre (SSC) manages the collection of all HAP tenants’ differential rents, on behalf of the relevant local authority, and the payment of all HAP rents to landlords on behalf of tenants supported by the HAP scheme. The HAP SSC follows a clear communication policy if rental arrears issues arise. This policy includes regular and early written communication with tenants, landlords and the relevant local authority.
The approach taken by the HAP SSC has been very effective with minimal levels of rent arrears arising for HAP tenants. In 2019, the scheme had a 96% differential rent collection rate, with minimal arrears arising for tenants or local authorities. At Q4 2021, the scheme had a 99% differential rent collection rate. Therefore, only a very small number of tenants have fallen into difficulty with their differential rent.
HAP tenants in arrears should contact their local authority and the HAP SSC to discuss the options that are available to them to ensure the continuation of their HAP support.