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Shared equity scheme to be extended to self-build homes, says minister

Controversial planning rules for “build-to-rent” apartments are also set to be abolished.

THE SHARED EQUITY SCHEME for first-time-buyers is to be extended to self-build homes, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has told the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis. 

The First Home Scheme, which opened in July, involves the Government taking a stake in a home purchase to help make up the difference between the buyer’s level of mortgage approval and the cost of the property.

Describing the scheme as a “game-changer” in his speech to the party’s Ard Fheis, O’Brien said: 

“I’m announcing today that I will be extending that to self build homes across rural Ireland.”

The rules operating the scheme will be extended to self-builds, so if a person gets mortgage approval for a certain amount, but the new-build all-in cost is higher, then the First Home Scheme can be used to bridge the gap. 

In addition, he said the €50,000 grants to buy and refurbish empty and derelict homes, in rural areas is being extended to cities.

Applications for urban areas are expected to open in October.

Planning rules brought in by Eoghan Murphy

The minister said planning rules around “build-to-rent” (BTR) apartments, which allow properties not having to comply with minimum size standards required in homes for sale, are set to be abolished,.

In 2018, the then Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy brought in these raft of new guidelines around apartment developments. 

“I’m abolishing the separate two tier planning standards for build to rent apartments. This means that from the end of this year, every apartment application in our country will be a single, built-to-buy standards, and allow it to be sold and not restricted solely for rental.

“If it’s good enough to rent, it should be good enough to buy. And we need to level the playing field between homeowners and investors,” he said. 

A single apartment standard will give certainty, said O’Brien.

“It will level the playing field and it will still enable the investment where it is needed. We all know the scale of the challenge in housing. But we also know of the cynical and callous exploitation of it by some opposition parties,” he said.

Developments already in planning will be allowed to continue under the existing regime. 

O’Brien said home ownership is his core believe and core pillar to Fianna Fáil.

“I believe in owning your own home. And I believe that it is good for individuals. It’s good for families, it’s good for our communities, and it’s good for our country.

“My wife and I were lucky enough to buy a home and start a family. And it is a basic opportunity that I want for my daughter when she was she’s growing up. A person earning a decent wage should be able to own their own small corner of this world,” he said. 

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