Dáil Question to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government

20/11/2012

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on his Departments recent proposal to offer families in social housing an incentive to buy their properties, while at the same time introducing a mortgage to rent scheme which will in turn bring private properties owned by a person and the bank to within the remit of his Department and social housing organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (Ms. J. O’Sullivan)
 
The Government is acutely conscious of the difficulties being experienced by households in mortgage distress while at the same time remaining committed to facilitating the home ownership aspirations of creditworthy lower income households. There is no inherent contradiction between these objectives.
 
Under the current arrangements, social housing tenants who wish to apply to purchase their home under the Tenant Purchase scheme may submit an application up to 31 December 2012, and housing authorities will have until 31 December 2013 to finalise sales under the scheme. It is my intention to replace this scheme with a new scheme based on the incremental purchase model for tenants of existing local authority housing. Legislation is required to underpin the new model which it is intended to introduce as soon as possible.
 
At the same time, and in line with the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears, the Government launched a mortgage to rent scheme on a pilot basis in February 2012. This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting those low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances in the foreseeable future. The scheme ensures that the family remains in their home, while ownership is transferred to an approved housing body who in turn rent it to the original owners.
The Government is acutely conscious of the difficulties being experienced by households in mortgage distress while at the same time remaining committed to facilitating the home ownership aspirations of creditworthy lower income households. There is no inherent contradiction between these objectives.
 
Under the current arrangements, social housing tenants who wish to apply to purchase their home under the Tenant Purchase scheme may submit an application up to 31 December 2012, and housing authorities will have until 31 December 2013 to finalise sales under the scheme. It is my intention to replace this scheme with a new scheme based on the incremental purchase model for tenants of existing local authority housing. Legislation is required to underpin the new model which it is intended to introduce as soon as possible.
 
At the same time, and in line with the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears, the Government launched a mortgage to rent scheme on a pilot basis in February 2012. This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting those low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances in the foreseeable future. The scheme ensures that the family remains in their home, while ownership is transferred to an approved housing body who in turn rent it to the original owners.