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eviction ban

Landlords selling property will have to give tenant option to buy under new scheme

The First Home Scheme is to be amended to include tenants who wish to buy the property when their landlord is selling up.

LEGISLATION IS BEING drawn up to ensure that landlords selling a property must first offer the property for sale to the tenant in situ.

The eviction ban is to be scrapped at the end of this month, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien announced today. 

While there has been widespread criticism of the decision by Cabinet today, with the minister himself admitting that homelessness figures may rise as a result, a number of new measures the Government hopes will stem the rise were announced today.

One new measure is the roll out of a policy whereby it will be required that a landlord selling a property will first offer it to the tenant on an independent valuation basis for sale. 

First refusal for tenants

The minister said he is moving forward with proposing legislative measures for the ‘first refusal’ plan and administrative changes to the First Home Scheme to enable tenants to buy their property while protecting the landlord’s asset value.

The First Home Scheme, one of the key pillars in the Government’s Housing for All plan, aims to help people to secure a home by providing part of the purchase price of the dwelling in return for a minority equity stake.

The scheme gives funding to buyers of up to 30% of the market value of the property. 

It was launched last year and aims to help first-time buyers afford newly built homes.

Property price caps for every county were increased last year to give more access to the scheme and usually the scheme only applies to newly built homes in a private development. 

This change will mean that the scheme can be used now in for the first time and in limited circumstances for second-hand homes. 

Changes to the First Home Scheme “is quite similar to the arrangements in place in France and it will require legislative underpinning”, said the minister, adding that he wants to see this new policy in place by the summer recess.  

Under the French scheme, the seller is not bound to sell the property to the tenant but merely means that if they decide to sell they are obliged to offer it to the tenant when they put it on the market.

If the owner puts the property on the open market, and they sign a contract of sale with another party, the tenant must be offered the right to buy the property at the price and on the same other terms.

Buying properties for cost rental 

In addition to giving tenants the option to buy from their landlord, O’Brien said today that he is also working with approved housing bodies and local authorities to develop a bespoke ‘cost rental’ model for tenants at risk of homelessness but who are not on social housing supports, so they can continue to rent their homes at existing or market rates.

He said the bespoke cost rental model for tenants at risk of homelessness but who are not on social housing supports will involve an option for housing bodies and local authorities to purchase the property and continue to let it out to the existing tenant at cost rental rates.

O’Brien said the Government today also made a decision to introduce 1,000 target leasing units separate and additional to the current leasing arrangements.

They will be focused at at the homeless community with 600 of those units being delivered this year.

The majority will be one and two bedroom apartments which the minister said are badly needed and will specifically be focused on the homeless community.

Purchase with tenant in situ

The purchase for tenant in situ is to increase to 1,500 purchases this year, with the Government underpinning the finance. O’Brien said this scheme will be accelerated and expanded focusing on people who’ve received notice to quit, who are HAP and RAS tenants. 

There will also be an amendment of the Capital Advance Leasing Facility used by Approved Housing Bodies to assist them in their efforts in delivering social homes. 

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