Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Housing Schemes

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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131. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the measures he is taking to help persons who are over the threshold financially for social housing but cannot secure mortgage approval; if there are any schemes for this cohort of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11790/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The Government recognises that more needs to be done to support home buyers and, as detailed in the Housing for All strategy, has introduced a multi-faceted approach to step up housing supply and put affordability at the heart of the housing system. This includes the provision of 36,000 affordable purchase and 18,000 cost rental homes in the period to 2030.

For those with incomes too high to qualify for social housing, under pathway 1 of Housing For All, “Pathways to Home Ownership and Increasing Affordability”, I have introduced the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme to assist first-time buyers purchasing Local Authority-delivered new homes by bridging the gap between the market value of the home and the combined value of the buyer's mortgage and deposit. Affordable Purchase homes will be advertised on the relevant Local Authority’s website in advance of their sale, as well as eligibility requirements such as household income limits. This scheme uses an equity share model to give eligible purchasers the opportunity of home ownership at a significant discount.

The First Home shared equity scheme, launched last July, employs a similar equity share model in order to support households unable to afford the purchase of new homes in the private market. Subject to eligibility criteria, it can provide funds up to 30% of the value of a newly constructed home (or 20% if the Help to Buy Scheme is used). Overall, this scheme is intended to support up to 8,000 affordable purchases in the period out to 2026, and the State has committed funding of €200m, to be matched by the participating mortgage lenders. Full details of the Scheme, including eligibility criteria, are available on the website: www.firsthomescheme.ie.

Separately, a new form of long-term sustainable home rental has been introduced in the form of Cost Rental tenancies. Cost Rental is targeted to deliver rents at least 25% below market levels for households with incomes above social housing limits but who cannot afford to purchase or rent their own homes on the open market. It provides tenants with secure tenancies in long-term homes. Under the Cost Rental model, rents for homes are set to cover only the cost of financing, building, managing and maintaining the homes.

Other measures, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Local Authority Home loan are also nationally available to eligible first-time purchasers to make home ownership more affordable.

The Help-to-Buy incentive supports First-time Buyers in meeting the deposit requirements for newly-built houses or apartments, as well as self-build homes. Subject to the level of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous 4 years, the Help-to-Buy scheme provides a maximum benefit to First-Time Buyers of €30,000 or 10% of the cost of the newly constructed home. As of the end of December 2022, nearly 38,000 first-time buyers have been supported by this incentive.

The new Local Authority Home Loan commenced on 4 January 2022 and is a Government backed mortgage scheme for those on modest or low incomes who cannot get sufficient funding from commercial banks to purchase or build a home. The loan can be used by first-time buyers for both for new and second-hand properties, or for self-builds. I have recently, along with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Minister Pascal Donohoe TD, signed amendment regulations to increase the house price limits in all local authority areas, as well as increasing the income limits for all applicants, with these changes effective from 1st March 2023. More information on the Local Authority Home Loan can be found on the new, improved website localauthorityhomeloan.ie/.


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