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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019
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Local councils to pay up-front rent to private owners of derelict houses

Councils are buying up derelict houses for social housing under government housing action plan.

Image: Rebuilding Ireland

OWNERS OF DERELICT HOUSES are to get funding to renovate the property and get it back into use.

TheJournal.ie understands the new “Repair and Leasing Scheme” will allow local authorities pay, what is earmarked to be five years rent up-front, through a grant to homeowners.

Funding will be provided to renovate the house, which will then be leased by the local authority for a period of five years.

The value of the repairs will then be offset incrementally against the agreed rental income over a defined period within the lease.

Property owners will not be required to take on landlord responsibilities.

After that period, and after being fully refurbished, the house will be returned to the homeowner for their use.

The department has committed €6 million for 2017, with €140 million up to 2021.

Social housing

The initiative is part of the latest pillar of the Rebuilding Ireland housing action plan, which is to be launched by the Housing Minister Simon Coveney tomorrow.

The repair and leasing scheme aims to target houses that are in private ownership, but have fallen into disrepair.

A government source said many of these units, which are often in areas where social housing is most needed, are often owned by families who have been left the property by a relative, but do not have the money to renovate the house.

Local authorities have been working to identify houses of this kind, with councils in Waterford and Carlow already implementing the scheme.

rebuilding ireland Source: Screengrab/Rebuilding Ireland

This scheme is part of the government’s action plan to deliver 47,000 social housing units by 2021. The department has pledged €5.35 billion.

The government is providing €200 million in the coming years for such schemes aimed to help councils and housing bodies buy and lease derelict homes for social housing use.

Minister Coveney is also expected to outline a number of other initiatives to ramp up social housing provision.

Derelict houses

A “Derelict Housing Scheme” aims to target derelict homes left vacant around the country.

“These derelict properties are in every town and village in the country. They are the boarded up, privately owned properties that are often eyesores in a town,” said a department source.

Additional funding is to be provided to local authorities to acquire the properties, through Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) if necessary.

An initial €25 million will be made available for this in 2017, with funding set to increase to €50 million in 2018.

rebuilding 2 Source: Screengrab/Rebuilding Ireland

The Department of Housing also aims to get social housing units – known as ‘voids’ – back into use. These are local authority homes that have been returned to the council, but haven’t been turned around quick enough to get new tenants back in.

Since the launch of the government action plan, 1,300 of these units are back in the system.

The department is to provide additional funding of €13 million, to increase this to 2,000 units.

Source: Rebuilding Ireland/YouTube

Other measures expected to be outlined by the minister tomorrow focus on homes for older people.

It’s expected funding will be announced so older people can renovate their properties to their needs, but there are also plans to assess if older people might be more suitable in downsized homes, where there are no stairs and no gardens for them to tend to.

Homelessness

Earlier this month, Coveney outlined what the government is doing to deal with the country’s homelessness problem.

Among a number of updates provided by the minister, he said there would be more than 200 extra emergency beds for the homeless this Christmas.

A recent count by the Dublin Simon Community (DSC) found rough sleepers in Dublin is at an all-time high, with some 168 people counted sleeping rough in the capital on 20 September, a 32% increase on the last year.

Tomorrow’s social housing announcement comes as AAA-PBP Richard Boyd Barrett grilled the minister in the Dáil today on private developers using public land.

The minister reassured Boyd Barrett that “there is no lack of priority or ambition” to solve the crisis. He said it was his job to help everyone in the housing crisis – not just those people waiting on the social housing list.

Many people are looking for housing. The deputy [Richard Boyd Barrett] mentioned people on the list, but there are many people who are looking to try to buy their own homes.
My job is to get more houses built for everybody, including people on social housing lists, people who are homeless, young couples who want to buy their own homes and people who want to get into secure rental accommodation. That is a broad mix.  This is not about solving one problem.

Read: Garda Commissioner ‘did not know of, nor approve, any targeting of anyone making protected disclosures’>

Read: “There’s very little principle in Irish politics” – Fine Gael TD>

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