Major changes needed to Tenant Purchase Scheme – Brendan Smith

– Review should be published without delay

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Housing Minister to expand the eligibility criteria for the Tenant Purchase Scheme.
Deputy Smith cited issues with social welfare recipients being unable to qualify for the scheme, even if they had built up savings and were in a position to purchase their home.
“The Government needs to revamp the current scheme to make it more attractive to tenants and to local authorities.  If the scheme was improved, it would generate income for councils as well as securing home ownership for local authority tenants.  The current scheme is deeply flawed because even if a family has enough money to buy their home, they are automatically excluded from applying if the majority of their income comes from social welfare payments”, explained Deputy Brendan Smith.

“Many pensioners are now living into their 80s and 90s, however people in their 60s are precluded from the scheme if the State pension or payments made under participation schemes, such as the Rural Social Scheme makes up the bulk of their income.

“The Tenant Purchase Scheme was first established under Fianna Fáil, and was responsible for the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the State.  Opening up a pathway to home ownership is at the very heart of Fianna Fáil policy.  Ireland cannot afford to have a divided society where home ownership is confined to a few, while the rest struggle with unstable tenure and rent levels.

“The right to buy under the tenant purchase scheme has been an important tool in extending home ownership opportunities to low income households.  The option to own a valuable long-term asset has empowered thousands of families across the country and should not be denied to any family or individual.

“The terms of previous Tenant Purchase Schemes were not as restrictive, and in most cases people who bought their homes from the local authority took great pride in doing so.  I am calling on the Government to review the current terms of the scheme and to make it workable, as I believe that home ownership is one of great stabilising characteristics of a decent society”.

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For Written Answer on : 25/10/2017

Question Number(s): 283 Question Reference(s): 45222/17

Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government

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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to enable persons avail of the tenant purchase scheme that may not have a weekly income apart from a social welfare payment but are in a position from their own means or through family financial support to purchase their council family home; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the present criteria of the scheme is denying such families the opportunity to retain their homes in family ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The new Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum, have been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year and have been allocated a house under a local authority allocation scheme.

In line with the commitment given in the Rebuilding Ireland An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, a review of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase scheme’s operation has been undertaken. The review has incorporated analysis of comprehensive data received from local authorities regarding the operation of the scheme during 2016 and a wide-ranging public consultation process which saw submissions received from individuals, elected representatives and organisations.

The review is now complete and a full report setting out findings and recommendations has been prepared. Following consultation with relevant Departments on implementation arrangements, I expect to be in a position to publish the outcome of the review in the coming weeks.

 

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