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TheJournal.ie’s progress report for the Government: Housing

Distressed mortgages, social housing, ghost estates, homelessness – how has the government done in the area of housing in its first year?

Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning Jan O'Sullivan
Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning Jan O'Sullivan
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

1) WHAT THEY SAID DURING THE 2011 ELECTION CAMPAIGN

  • Fine Gael said it would direct NAMA to study the possibilities of seizing newly vacated houses from bankrupt developers and selling them to local authorities for social housing
  • The Fine Gael manifesto stated: “Within six months of entering Government we will compel all local authorities to produce an action plan on how they intend to deal with each ghost estate in their locality”
  • Labour said it would improve the quality of information available on the Irish housing market by requiring that the selling price of all dwellings to be recorded in a publicly available national housing price database.
  • Labour’s manifesto stated: “No repossessions should be permitted for at least two years, where a person makes a genuine attempt to pay their mortgage on a home of modest size”

2) WHAT THEY SAID IN THE PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT

    • The government promised to fast track personal bankruptcy reform to help homeowners who in some cases would need to declare themselves bankrupt.
    • It also promised to direct any mortgage lenders in receipt of State support to present a plan about how it plans to cut costs to forgo any potential 25 basis point increase on their variable mortgage rates.
    • It promised a “coherent plan” for dealing with ghost estates
    • It also promised a national housing price database that would list house prices accurately based on how much was paid for every house and replace the need to be reliant on estate agents’ estimates.

    3) PROGRESS – OR LACK THEREOF – IN FIRST YEAR OF GOVERNMENT

    • The cabinet signed off on the Personal Insolvency Bill last month and it is currently winging its way through the Oireachtas. In some cases it could allow a person to write off debts of between €20,000 and €3 million.
    • On ghost estates, though the Fine Gael manifesto promised a plan within six months, there was no time frame in the programme for government. Two thousand new homes will be made available for social housing this year, the government recently announced. Though there are nearly 18,000 completed or near-completed empty dwellings in Ireland.
    • According to a report this week in the Irish Independent a House Price Register will go online at the end of June, providing accurate information on selling prices and making good on a promise from both parties to introduce such a database.
    • On repossessions, a relatively small number of homes are being repossessed. In the fourth quarter of last year, 133 homes were repossessed, 50 through a court order. Much more alarming might be that the average mortgage holder in Ireland is now €1,453 behind in their repayments.

    Read all sections here: HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT DO IN ITS FIRST YEAR? THIS IS HOW >

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    About the author:

    Hugh O'Connell

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