The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government Mr Simon Coveney T.D., today (23 February, 2017) announced that the pilot scheme that targets vacant properties and secures them for social housing, by financing the cost of repairs, is to be rolled out to County Cork and nationally.
An additional €26m is being provided to fund the scheme in 2017 which brings the total amount of investment available this year to €32m. This additional funding will mean that up to 800 vacant properties can be brought back into use as new homes for families on local authority waiting lists.
The pilot has been working well in Waterford and Carlow local authorities since October with around 59 properties currently in train. Based on this level of interest in the scheme, the initiative can deliver up to 800 homes this year. Property owners see the opportunity the scheme presents for them – upfront financing of the cost of repairs – in fact they need not even get involved in arranging the works, and a secure and reliable income from regular rental payments, without having to take on landlord responsibilities.
The Department is currently working with local authorities to implement the scheme on a local basis. The scheme will be monitored very closely this year in order to ensure that it works and is cost effective. This approach will also assist in understanding the real potential of the scheme over the coming years.
The Repair and Leasing Scheme is one of a number of initiatives in Rebuilding Ireland to address vacant properties around the country. Other initiatives include the Buy and Renew Scheme which provides funding for local authorities to purchase vacant properties and remediate them and a new National Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy which is currently being finalised.
Property owners interested in the scheme should contact their local authority directly and register their interest.
The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding required to bring them up to the standard for rental property. Subject to the suitability of the property for social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the local authority or an approved housing body (AHB). This allows for the property owner to sign-up to a lease arrangement for a length that is linked to the value of the repairs, subject to a minimum of 10 years. The value of the repairs will then be offset incrementally against the agreed rental payment over a defined period within the lease.
A property owner can either choose to arrange a contractor to carry out the repairs themselves, or the local authority or AHB can arrange this instead. Property owners will not be required to take on landlord responsibilities and the local authority or AHB will have on-going management and maintenance responsibilities in respect of the properties.
The local authority will determine the eligibility for the scheme having regard to the location and the suitability of the property for social housing and also taking into consideration the extent of the repairs that may be required. The maximum costs of repairs allowable under this initiative will be €40,000.
Between 2017 and 2021 it is anticipated that 3,500 units will be secured for social housing through the scheme. A budget of €140m will support this activity.
Originally, 150 units were targeted under the scheme in 2017 with €6m in capital funding allocated. Based on the workings of the pilot to date, the revised allocation for the scheme in 2017 is €32m with a revised target of 800 units. The success of the national pilot will determine the delivery expectation in 2018 and future years and the financial requirements.