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Could shared ownership help to solve some of Ireland's housing problems?

The scheme was previously phased out because of a “very significant easing of affordability”.

Image: Shutterstock/violetkaipa

IN LONDON A new scheme has been introduced which allows people to get onto the property ladder without paying a deposit or getting locked into a mortgage.

The new initiative comes as part of mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘First Steps’ programme and will allow participants to grow a share of ownership in their property outside of the traditional model of buying a home.

For ‘buyers’ of these new homes, monthly payments will go towards shares in their properties rather than rent. When they can afford to, they can increase the share of the property that they own, until they own the home outright.

What about here? 

Until quite recently a similar initiative existed in Ireland.

The Shared Ownership Scheme gave people who could not afford to buy their entire property in one go a way onto the property ladder.

Under the rules of the scheme buyers were required to buy up a full share in their house over a thirty-year period.

To avail of the scheme, homeowners had to get approval for part ownership from the local authority for a house suitable to their needs. Those looking to take part in the scheme were required to purchase at least 40% of their home.

Involvement was also subject to rules around income. Single-income households were required to earn less than €40,000 a year, for example.

Households with two incomes were subject to a slightly more complicated criteria. Sitting down? Here goes. They had to:

Multiply the gross income (before tax) of the higher earner in the last income tax year by 2.5. Add the gross income of the other earner in the last income tax year. If the answer was €100,000 or less, you were eligible.

So what happened? And could a similar thing come back? 

New rules from the Central Bank on mortgages have made it more difficult for individuals to get onto the property ladder and it seems like the revival of such a scheme could be a big help for a lot of people.

During its lifetime the scheme assisted 6,292 applicants.

On its website, the Department for the Environment says that it was no longer able to run them scheme “due to the reality of market conditions across the country” and the “very significant easing of affordability”.

Reintroduction

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, the Department of the Environment stated that there is no plan to reintroduce a similar scheme.

Something that is currently in operation is the Tenant Purchase Scheme which came into effect in 2012.

Under it, tenants are able to use the incremental purchase model and enjoy reductions in the price of the property they are purchasing.

However, this scheme is restricted to local authority tenants.

On the benefit of the scheme being applied to local authority tenants, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said:

As for the scheme being too restrictive, most tenants would be renting for a number of years and would be settled. This helps develop the community spirit.

The Social Housing Strategy 2020 will introduce a new tenant purchase scheme to be introduced in the second quarter of this year.

Under the scheme further amendments will be made to the terms for people buying local authority houses or apartments.

While this will provide benefits for some it leaves a large number of people ineligible for assistance.

With the market the way it is, perhaps the reintroduction of the Shared Ownership Scheme could be a very good thing – giving assistance to a wide range of people who otherwise are unable to find a way onto the property ladder.

Read: The Viewing: Your vital round-up of property news from the week

Also: The average asking price for a house in Ireland is now €193,000

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