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Housing for All: The measures aimed at helping single people get on the property ladder

Single applicants for local authority loans will be able to earn up to €65,000 in certain areas.

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NEW PLANS TO help single people access the housing market include changes to the earning limits for local authority loans and grants for the refurbishment of heritage buildings.

This afternoon the government launched its Housing for All plan, committing to an increase in the supply of housing of 33,000 homes per year over the next decade. 

Over €4 billion in State funding each year will be provided and the plan provides for a mix of social, affordable and private housing for sale and rent. 

The plan includes a number of measures specifically targeted at single people, many of whom are locked out of the housing market. 

The Local Authority Home Loan is to be expanded so that single applicants with gross income of up to €65,000 in areas where the scheme’s house price limit is €320,000 (Greater Dublin Area, Cork, Galway, Meath and Wicklow) will be eligible for the loan. 

The current income limit for single applicants is €50,000. The interest rate for these loans will also be reduced for all applicants. 

The plan acknowledges that much of the housing demand within local authorities is for smaller homes for single people.

“Our town centres, above shops and older building stock can provide solutions through adaptive reuse, backfilling plots in towns, converting former retail units to full occupancy and infilling derelict sites within town, city and village settings,” it said.

The government will create an enhanced residential component next year under the existing heritage capital grant programme, the Historic Structure Fund, the plan said.

A dedicated stream under this fund will offer a small number of grants from €50,000 up to €200,000 for larger enhancement, refurbishment or reuse projects involving heritage structures, where a clear residential benefit has been demonstrated.

The department said there is “obvious scope” here to grow this stream, with a suggested allocation of €2 million per year, growing to €5 million per year over the period of the plan.

The government has said it will also provide additional guidance – including planning guidance – relating to protected structures.

Divorced people 

The plan also seeks to address the precarious situations divorced people find themselves in in terms of housing.

A ‘fresh start’ principle will apply to applications to State-run affordable housing and loan schemes. 

This means that people who are divorced/separated and no longer have a financial interest in the family home, or who have undergone insolvency proceedings, will be eligible to apply for State schemes.

Two new affordable purchase schemes are to be introduced – one will involve local
authorities delivering, or facilitating the delivery of, new homes in areas where affordability challenges have been identified.

The second, which will be nationally available, will see the State partnering with the banking sector to establish a new affordable purchase shared-equity First Home scheme.

Renting

The plan published today includes a commitment to building an average of 2,000 new cost rental homes each year with rents targeted at least 25% below the market level. It also mentions the introduction of indefinite tenancies, which is said will strengthen security for renters. 

Rent pressure zones will be extended to 2024 and rents are to be linked to the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, which is an indicator of inflation. 

New short-term lettings regulations will be introduced through a Fáilte Ireland registration system. 

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Speaking about the plan today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin cautioned that there is “no easy fix” to the housing crisis. 

He said solving the problem will require “hard work” by multiple government departments. A new Housing for All delivery group is to be established and will be required to produce quarterly progress reports. 

“What I am saying today is that the housing crisis is a fundamental threat to our nation’s wellbeing, cohesion and social progress and that we are prepared and have the plan to do what is necessary to meet it, and to beat it,” he said.

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