Minister Damien English welcomes rollout of the Repair and Leasing Scheme for vacant houses in Meath

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English TD,
today (10 March, 2017) welcomed the scheme that targets vacant
properties and secures them for social housing, by financing the cost
of repairs, as it was rolled out in Meath. This year nationally €32m
has been provided for the scheme. This means that up to 800 vacant
properties can be brought back into use nationally as new homes for
families on local authority waiting lists.

Minister English said, “The scheme is demand-led which means the more
leases the local authority secures the more funding they get.  This is
a great opportunity for owners of vacant houses with the local
authority financing of the cost of repairs.  In fact they don’t even
have to get involved in arranging the works – the local authority will
do that – and in return they get a secure and reliable income from
regular rental payments, without having to take on landlord
responsibilities. I want to see Meath County Council making the most
of this scheme and I want to see them maximising the benefits for the
people of Meath.”

The Department is currently working with local authorities to
implement the scheme on a local basis.  A range of Approved Housing
Bodies around the country have also expressed an interest in working
with local authorities to deliver new social homes using the scheme.
“I see these bodies having a significant role in its success – their
local knowledge, experience of managing refurbishment projects, as
well as being good landlords will be invaluable” said the Minister.

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.

ENDS

Notes:

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.

The success of the national pilot will determine the delivery
expectation in 2018 and future years and the financial requirements.

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