Monday 12 October 2009

Unsold affordable homes to be rented

UNSOLD AFFORDABLE homes in 12 local authorities are to be rented out to people on social housing waiting lists, the Department of the Environment has said.

It has given permission to local authorities to move the unsold homes to the permanent social housing stock.

Some 3,700 affordable homes, including houses and apartments, are held by local authorities around the country and 1,800 of these are considered likely to prove difficult to sell, the department has said.

Affordable homes were developed as part of the Planning and Development Act 2000 under which a proportion of every housing development had to be provided to local authorities for social and affordable housing.

During the economic boom, home buyers on lower incomes could buy one of these homes from their local authority at an “affordable” price. Once the property market slumped affordable housing was no longer attractive. The department advised local authorities of their options for bringing unsold affordable homes into use in a circular in April.

These included the temporary transfer of affordable homes for use under the Rental Accommodation Scheme or under the new social leasing arrangements, or in certain limited cases, for transfer to the permanent social housing stock. The department gave permission to move some affordable homes to social housing stock in Athy Town Council, Cobh Town Council, Dublin City Council, Fermoy Town Council, Kilkenny County Council and Kinsale Town Council. Also approved were Laois County Council, Limerick City Council, Midleton Town Council, Sligo County Council, Templemore Town Council and Wexford County Council.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell said the department was also in talks with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and South Dublin County Council to extend the scheme. She said the decision was another slap in the face for homeowners who bought their house or apartment in the expectation that their neighbours would be owner-occupiers.

A spokesman for the Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran said while there were no legislative restrictions on the number of private housing units that could be leased for social housing, the department had issued guidance.

Irish Times

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