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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 58-79
 Header Item Home Loan Scheme
 Header Item Pyrite Issues
 Header Item Land Development Agency
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data
 Header Item Weather Events Response
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Private Rented Accommodation
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Local Government Reform
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Data
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Data
 Header Item Emergency Accommodation Data
 Header Item Local Authority Housing
 Header Item Urban Development
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Mortgage to Rent Scheme Data
 Header Item Homeless Accommodation Provision

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 58-79

  Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 26.

Home Loan Scheme

 59. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of applications to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme processed by the Housing Agency; the number recommended by the agency; the number refused; the number sent back for further information; the amount recommended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8296/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications.  Last year, I asked the Agency to compile figures on its processing of applications.  The most recent figures, as at the end of January 2019, indicate that the Agency had assessed 3,916 applications since the scheme began. Of these, 667 were deemed invalid, 1,660 were recommended for approval and 1,598 were recommended for refusal.  The data provided does not include figures on the number of applications returned for further information.

Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

Pyrite Issues

 60. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the action he has taken in relation to the continued failure of the Pyrite Resolution Board to bring forward a resolution to issues in relation to the interpretation of sections 15 and 17 of the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013.  [8400/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” for affected homeowners, who have no other practical option to obtain redress and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.

The scheme is applicable to dwellings which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave established in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2017 - Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol.  It is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2.  Dwellings which do not have a Damage Condition Rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme.  This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings which are most severely damaged by pyritic heave.  I have no proposals to amend this eligibility criterion.

Where a dwelling, otherwise not eligible for inclusion in the scheme, adjoins a dwelling already included in the scheme, such a dwelling may be considered in accordance with the exceptional circumstance provisions set out in section 17 of the Act. Section 17 provides that exceptional circumstances may apply where:

- failure to include a dwelling in the scheme may result in damage to that dwelling or damage to the dwelling being remediated under the scheme, or

- pyrite remediation work is causing or may cause damage to a dwelling.

The Housing Agency will consider if exceptional circumstances apply when the Remedial Works Plan is being drawn up and the Board will be informed of any recommendation for a decision in the matter.  To date, one dwelling has been included in the pyrite remediation scheme under the exceptional circumstances provisions of the Act.

In relation to section 15 of the Act, the restriction in Section 15(3) of the Act preventing applications being made under the scheme by a person who purchases a dwelling on or after 12 December 2013 (the publication date of the Pyrite Remediation Bill), applies where that person knew or ought to have known that the dwelling was constructed using hardcore containing reactive pyrite. Following a number of requests for clarification on this matter, my Department sought legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the Board’s interpretation of Section 15(3).  It is my Department’s view, informed by the legal advice received on the matter, that Section 15(3) does not represent a blanket exclusion preventing applications being made under the scheme by a person who purchases a dwelling on or after 12 December 2013 and that it is a matter for the Board to determine, based on facts and evidence in each individual case, whether an applicant is or is not entitled to apply for inclusion into the Pyrite Remediation Scheme.

The Board was notified of my Department’s view on the matter.  However, it is important to note that, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Board is independent in the performance of its functions, and as Minister, I have no role in the operational matters relating to the implementation of the scheme.  The Board may be contacted directly by phone at Locall 1890 252842 or by email to info@pyriteboard.ie or alternatively at oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie.

Land Development Agency

 61. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of staff he expects to be seconded from NAMA and the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA, to the Land Development Agency; if he has had discussions with the Minister for Finance and his officials in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8473/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Land Development Agency (LDA) was established on 13 September 2018 by way of Establishment Order under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971.

There are currently three staff working in the LDA on secondment from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).  These secondments were directly arranged between my Department and the NTMA. Further LDA secondments from the NTMA or secondments from the National Asset Management Agency are not envisaged at this time.

  Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 28.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

 63. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of new build social houses constructed in Galway city and county in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8483/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Statistical information on social housing delivery across a range of delivery streams, broken down on a local authority basis, is published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/node/6338.

  Over the course of Rebuilding Ireland, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 137,000 households. With funding of over €6 billion in place, significant progress on implementation of the Plan has already been made.  

  While there are a number of delivery mechanisms in place to support local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver social housing in an effective and efficient manner, a very substantial focus of the Plan is on accelerating new build activity for social housing across all local authorities, including Galway City and Galway County. Indeed, I discussed this with both local authorities at the recent Housing Summit with local authority Chief Executives in the context of reviewing 2018 delivery.

  My Department will continue to work with the Galway local authorities, and all other local authorities, to deliver on the targets set out under Rebuilding Ireland.

Weather Events Response

 64. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to fully prepare for extreme weather events in 2019 (details supplied); if his Department is monitoring the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3139/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department is the Lead Government Department for co-ordinating the response to severe weather events. The task of monitoring for, and initial response to, emergencies of all kinds within my Department's remit is assigned to the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management. The National Directorate responds on the basis of its Standard Operating Procedures and has gained considerable experience in working with Met Éireann to lead the response to severe weather at national level.

In addition to the considerable experience of responding to severe weather events over the last decade, much development work has also taken place in emergency management. This is based on a systemic risk management approach, following international good practice.

My Department reviews the response to each severe weather event, with a view to consolidating good practice and identifying issues for further improvement after each event.  A review report has been prepared by my Department on the extreme weather events which occurred in the period August 2017 to August 2018, which includes three flooding events, ex-Hurricane Ophelia, Storm Emma and the extended drought of summer 2018.

My Department is implementing recommendations within its own remit.  The report's recommendations on national co-ordination and cross-cutting actions are being considered by a sub-group established by the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning.

Departmental Expenditure

 65. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the annual cost in 2017, 2018 and projected for 2019 of the housing assistance payment, HAP, the rental accommodation scheme, RAS, rent supplement and all other housing assistance payments to landlords; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8484/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The information requested in respect of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is set out in the following table: 

Year HAP (€m) RAS  (€m)
2017 152.69 142.8
2018 276.6 143.4
2019 (Allocated) 422 134.3


  Rent Supplement falls within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Private Rented Accommodation

 66. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if he will address the situation by which landlords in the private rental market seek the deposit and first month's rent in advance of handing over the property while the housing assistance payment is issued to the end of the month when a tenant could already be in the property for three weeks and thereby bringing issuing of the housing assistance payment more into line with the private rental market; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8482/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme has been structured in a way that protects Exchequer funding, by ensuring that payments are made only on valid and complete applications. For this reason rent is generally paid in arrears, which ensures that money is only paid in respect of time that the property has actually been occupied by the tenant. This practice helps avoid a situation where the local authority has to attempt to recover money from the landlord and simplifies the administration of the scheme.  While certain landlords may have a preference to obtain rent in advance, it should be noted that one of the advantages of the HAP scheme for a landlord is that it offers the security of regular monthly payments.

Limerick City and County Council provides a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities. This HAP Shared Service Centre (SSC) manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.

Once a HAP application has been received and confirmed as valid by the relevant local authority, it is then processed by the HAP SSC. On average, HAP applications are processed by the HAP Shared Service Centre within 1 working day of receipt. Any rental payment arising for a given month will then be made to a landlord on the last Wednesday of that month.

At the end of Quarter 3 2018, there were more than 40,800 active tenancies in receipt of HAP support and  over 25,000 landlords and agents involved in providing accommodation to those households. My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 67. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to increase the number of social and affordable houses in County Meath.  [8384/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is firmly focused on increasing housing supply and the priority is to support those in society with the greatest housing access and affordability challenges.  In that context, the focus is on meeting the housing needs of those in the lower-income categories, particularly those in need of social housing supports, and other households that are most challenged from an affordability perspective, such as first-time buyers.  The significant progress being made in these areas is outlined on the Rebuilding Ireland website at www.rebuildingireland.ie and was further supported through Budget 2019, which has provided €2.4 billion for housing purposes this year. 

  Overall, the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan will increase the supply of new homes to 25,000 per annum by 2020; deliver an additional 50,000 social housing homes in the period 2016 to 2021; and meet the housing needs of a further 87,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

  In 2018, in excess of 27,000 households had their social housing need met, significantly ahead of the target set.  The level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 22% nationally, from 91,600 households to 71,858, between 2016 and 2018.  The Social Housing Delivery Report for 2018 provides further details of delivery last year and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/install/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Social-Housing-Report-2018.pdf.

  Statistical information in relation to social housing delivery across all delivery streams is published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/node/6338. Statistical information for the full year 2018 has just been published and is available at:

Social Housing Breakdown

  I will shortly be writing to all local authorities, including Meath, setting out their individual social housing targets for 2019 and progress against these targets will continue to be published each quarter.  

  In relation to the provision of affordable housing for purchase, Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 has been commenced, placing the scheme on a statutory footing.  In order to support local authorities in delivering affordable homes, €310 million is being made available from 2019 until 2021 under the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). The SSF will fund facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites. At a maximum funding rate of €50,000 per affordable home, at least 6,200 affordable homes will be facilitated.

  On foot of the first call for SSF proposals which issued to local authorities in Dublin, the Greater Dublin Area, Cork and Galway City, approval was issued in December 2018 for ten projects at a cost of €43m, which will support the delivery of some 1,400 affordable homes. Infrastructure works on these projects will begin as soon as possible and delivery of affordable homes is anticipated from early 2020 onwards. A second call for proposals will issue to local authorities shortly, taking account of the authorities' economic assessments of the requirement and potential to deliver affordable homes from their sites. 

  The Government is also committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental will make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.  There are currently two cost rental projects at Enniskerry Road in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, which will deliver 50 and 330 cost rental homes respectively.  The experience on these projects will inform a national cost rental framework under which similar projects will be rolled out on a wider scale. My Department is engaged with the National Development Finance Agency, the European Investment Bank and the Land Development Agency to develop the optimum funding and delivery mechanisms to support cost rental delivery at scale in Dublin and other urban areas.

  My Department will continue to work with all local authorities with regard to any social and mixed-tenure housing proposals that they bring forward, in order to maximise delivery and also harness appropriate opportunities to deliver on additional housing units in 2019.

Local Government Reform

 68. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if he is satisfied with the level of readiness of local authorities and the implementation oversight group ahead of the Cork city and county boundary changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8474/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan The Cork boundary alteration is the most significant of its kind undertaken in the State. It represents a major reorganisation of local government in Cork with a population of over 85,000 people in the relevant area transferring from Cork County Council to Cork City Council.

The Local Government Act 2019 came into effect on 31 January 2019 and provides primarily for the alteration of the administrative boundary between Cork County Council and Cork City Council, which is planned to take place when the new Councils take office after the local elections in late May 2019.  The Act provides for the establishment of a statutory Cork Boundary Alteration Implementation Oversight Committee to ensure that the challenges of implementation are addressed effectively and to oversee arrangements for the alteration of the boundary in accordance with an implementation plan.

Responsibility for the detailed planning and implementation of the reorganisation process rests primarily with the two local authorities, subject to guidance and oversight by the Oversight Committee and compliance with the Implementation Plan.

The Committee has advised my Department that work is continuing in a timely fashion towards the transfer day of 31 May 2019. The statutory implementation plan is expected to be published in the coming weeks. Work on staff transfer plans and the financial settlement is also progressing and I am satisfied with the engagement and the level of readiness in the local authorities and the implementation oversight by the Oversight Committee.

Local Authority Housing Data

 69. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of local authority dwellings that were refurbished in 2018 under the voids programme by local authority; if the funds originally allocated to each local authority were drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8246/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The voids programme provides additional support to local authorities in preparing vacant social homes for re-letting, particularly homes that would likely remain vacant for a significant period of time because of the cost of the works required.  The programme assists local authorities in actively targeting such vacant properties, to minimise their turnaround and re-let times and return them to use in an energy efficient condition.  

  The number of local authority dwellings that were brought back to productive use during 2018, with funding provided through the voids programme, is set out in the following Table.  My Department did not issue funding allocations to each local authority; instead the funding was drawn down as local authorities undertook the remediation works.

  Units Returned in 2018

  No.
Carlow 38
Cavan 14
Clare 43
Cork City 74
Cork County 205
Donegal 86
Dublin City 495
Fingal 48
South Dublin 61
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown  50
Galway City 3
Galway County 45
Kerry 98
Kildare 27
Kilkenny 15
Laois 12
Leitrim 30
Limerick 24
Longford 3
Louth 13
Mayo 20
Meath 59
Monaghan 52
Offaly 10
Roscommon 2
Sligo 100
Tipperary 63
Waterford 20
Westmeath 23
Wexford 8
Wicklow 24
   
  1,765

Local Authority Housing Data

 70. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of houses acquired and purchased by Cavan and Monaghan county councils from 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8197/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Details of the number of houses that have been built and acquired by local authorities, including in counties Cavan and Monaghan, in each of the years 2013 to end Quarter 3 of 2018, are published and available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.  

Details in respect of Quarter 4 of 2018  will be published shortly. Similar details for 2019 will be published on a quarterly basis. 

Emergency Accommodation Data

 71. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of adults and children, respectively, that accessed local authority managed emergency accommodation in January 2019.  [8477/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department publishes data on a monthly basis outlining the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities and are produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS).

  The most recently published statistics for December 2018, show that there were 9,753 persons in emergency accommodation, comprising of 6,194 adults and 3,559 associated dependants.  This represented a reduction of 215 people nationally on the numbers recorded in November 2018.  The December statistics also show there were 111 fewer families and 252 fewer dependents in emergency accommodation than was the case in November.

  The monthly homelessness report for January 2019 is currently being compiled and will be published by my Department shortly.  The monthly reports can be accessed on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

Local Authority Housing

 72. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if his attention has been drawn to the situation facing residents at a location (details supplied); if the local authority has raised the case with his Department; and if supports will be provided for the affected tenants. [8253/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy A number of measures have been introduced in recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants.  Security of tenure provisions under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016 apply once a tenant has been in occupation of a dwelling for a continuous period of 6 months, with no notice of termination having been served during that time. Section 34 provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served, in line with those set out in section 34 of the Act.

The so-called ‘Tyrrelstown amendment', included in the 2016 Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, already limits the ability of landlords to use the grounds of sale to terminate tenancies, provided for in section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act.  Where a landlord proposes to sell 10 or more units within a single development at the same time, that sale will now be subject to the existing tenants remaining in situ, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015, enacted on 4 December 2015, provided for notice periods for the termination of further Part 4 tenancies, i.e. tenancies that extended beyond 4 years, to be extended pro rata in line with the length of the tenancy, subject to caps of 224 days for termination by landlords and 112 days for terminations by tenants (previously 112 days for landlords and 56 days for tenants). 

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Acts to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.  Section 56 of the Act provides that, where there is an abuse of the termination procedure in section 34, a tenant may bring a complaint to the RTB on the basis that they have been unjustly deprived of possession of a dwelling by their landlord. 

Further information from the RTB is available at https://onestopshop.rtb.ie/ and through the RTB helpline - Lo-call on 0818 30 30 37 (mobile operators may charge a premium rate to the Lo-call number) or 01 702 8100 - available from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 6.30pm

The national housing charity, Threshold operates the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) which is a national service providing advice and support to households living in private rented accommodation who are experiencing tenancy problems, including where a tenancy is at risk of termination. The TPS seeks to protect existing tenancies and keep tenants in their homes. The Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) helpline on free-phone 1800 454 454 – available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm. Further information is also available at www.threshold.ie.

Households at risk of becoming homeless can seek assistance from their local authority.  Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for housing support through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme. Once a household has been deemed eligible for social housing support, it is a matter for the local authority to examine the suite of social housing supports available, including the HAP scheme, to determine the most appropriate form of social housing support for that household in the administrative area of that local authority. This includes determining whether it is appropriate to refer a household to the Homeless HAP Place Finder service, which is a targeted support for households in emergency homeless accommodation, or who are at immediate risk of entering emergency accommodation, who may find it difficult to secure accommodation via the HAP scheme.  

The Homeless HAP Placefinder can engage directly with property owners, support qualified households to find suitable tenancies and ensure that any additional supports that may be needed are put in place.  The Place Finder Service can assist by paying deposits and advance rental payments, within HAP limits.

As the case in question is in the Dublin region, tenants affected can contact the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive's Central Placement Service homeless helpline at 1800-707-707. 

Urban Development

 73. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if his attention has been drawn to the conflict between the legally binding strategic development zone, SDZ, North Lotts plan in Dublin 1 and the recent ministerial guidelines on building height; and if his attention has been drawn to a commercial advantage for developers that pursue his guidelines over developers that adhere to the legally binding SDZ.  [8398/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy On 7 December 2018, I issued 'Urban Development and Building Height’ Guidelines for Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála, pursuant to Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Publication of the guidelines, which were called for widely in the wider planning and development sector, followed a period of public consultation and consideration of over 100 submissions and a thorough assessment by my Department.  A copy of the guidelines is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

Urban Development and Height Guidelines

  Under Section 30 of the 2000 Act, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government is specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.   

  By way of background, however, it is important to note that the guidelines specifically address their application in the context of areas covered by Strategic Development Zone Planning Schemes (SDZs), in particular, through the insertion of Specific Planning Policy Requirements (SPPR) 3(B & C).  SDZs may be reviewed at any stage by their respective development agencies to reflect changing implementation and policy circumstances and development agencies frequently employ these review mechanisms. 

  The intention of the above policy requirement is to ensure that, on the one hand, planning authorities give practical effect to Government policy on building height in planning scheme areas, while at the same time allowing for effective public engagement in any significant policy shift in relation to heights to comply with Government policy and in view of the absence of third party appeal rights in relation to planning applications in SDZs.

  For this reason, it is not the intention that SPPR 3 would allow an immediate ‘over-ride’ facility for the alteration of approved planning schemes without the undertaking of a review process that is provided for in statute.  Rather, the implementation of SPPR 3, and its components at A, B and C, as an integrated package is focused on securing strategic planning outcomes commensurate with proper public consultation.

  In determining planning policy and making planning decisions around appropriate building heights, the planning process has to strike a careful balance between enabling long-term and strategic development of relevant areas, while ensuring the highest standards of urban design, architectural quality and place-making outcomes.  I am satisfied that these guidelines are necessary and appropriate to give clear context and direction to the overall requirement to promote increased density and building height in appropriate locations within our urban centres.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

 74. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when the thresholds for entitlement to social housing will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8177/19]

 79. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the status of the review of social housing eligibility; when the review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8291/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 79 together.

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The Housing Agency is continuing to carry out the detailed statistical work, which will underpin this review, on behalf of my Department.

The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered. 

Social and Affordable Housing

 75. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the way in which he plans to utilise the cost rental model of housing; and the timeline and quantity for which he plans to utilise this model for the provision of homes in the next five years.  [8455/19]

 245. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy further to Parliamentary Question No. 299 of 8 November 2018, the status of the cost rental housing project at a location (details supplied); if the project has gone to tender; the estimated completion date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8524/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 245 together.

Given the affordability challenge faced by renters in Dublin and other parts of the country, the Government is committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental will make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

There are currently two cost rental pilot projects being advanced in Dublin, at Enniskerry Road in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and Emmet Road in Inchicore. The pilot projects will deliver 50 and 330 cost rental homes, respectively. The Enniskerry Road project is at a very advanced stage with the tender evaluation process currently being finalised.

The Emmet Road project is of critical importance, both as part of the Government’s cost rental programme, but more importantly to the community of Inchicore and Kilmainham. Therefore, Dublin City Council is progressing the project with a high level of consultation and engagement. In this regard, a community consultative forum, the Inchicore Regeneration Forum, with an independent Chairperson and a Forum Director, has been established, and has twenty delegates representing various members of the community, including three local City Councillors.  The City Council is also currently procuring a design team to prepare an Urban Design Development Framework Plan and thereafter will procure a multi-disciplinary design team to prepare the project for the planning application stage.

More broadly, the experience gained from these projects is informing the national approach to cost rental delivery at scale. My Department is engaged with the Housing Agency, the National Development Finance Agency, the European Investment Bank and the Land Development Agency to develop the optimum funding, delivery and administrative frameworks.

In order to support local authorities in delivering affordable homes, including cost rental, €310 million is being made available from 2019 until 2021 under the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). The SSF will fund facilitating infrastructure, on local authority sites, for the provision of affordable housing. At a funding rate of €50,000 per affordable home, at least 6,200 will be facilitated in total. The Enniskerry Road project has received approval in principle for approximately €4m under the first round of allocations and a second call will issue shortly.

  Question No. 76 answered with Question No. 31.

Mortgage to Rent Scheme Data

 77. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of applications made since the introduction of the mortgage to rent scheme; the number of applications successfully granted since the introduction of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8295/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Since the introduction of the Mortgage to Rent (MTR) scheme in 2012, a total of 4,475 cases have been submitted under the scheme to the end of 2018.  Of the 4,475 cases submitted, 3,043 were ineligible or terminated during the process.  Of the remaining cases submitted, 445 have been completed, and the remaining 987 applications are being actively progressed.

  The reasons why a case may not have progressed are varied and can depend on the household, the property, the ability of the Approved Housing Body (AHB) sector to increase its involvement in the scheme, the sale of the property not being agreed between the lender and AHB or a MTR application being withdrawn by either the lender or the borrower.  The Housing Agency publishes, on a quarterly basis, detailed statistical information on the operation of the MTR scheme, which is available on the Agency's website at the following link:

  https://www.housingagency.ie/our-services/housing-supply-services/mortgage-to-rent.aspx .

  A Review of the MTR scheme, published on 8 February 2017, introduced a range of amendments to the eligibility criteria and administration of the scheme in order to improve its operation.  The Review, which is available at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/changes-in-mortgage-to-rent-scheme/, explored the avenues and impediments to participation in the scheme and recommended a number of actions to make the scheme work better for borrowers.  My Department and the Housing Agency are working with all stakeholders to ensure that the actions set out in the Review are being effectively implemented to benefit a greater number of households.  The eligibility requirements of the scheme were widened to include a greater number of borrowers and a larger number of property types.  Increasing awareness and understanding of the scheme has been a priority and a new website - www.mortgagetorent.ie - dedicated to guiding and advising borrowers has been developed.  In addition, new structures and arrangements have been put in place to encourage a greater number of entities to take part in the scheme.

  The implementation of the resulting actions from the Review means that MTR is available to provide a long-term solution for more households in mortgage distress, where appropriate.

  Where MTR is not an option, it is a matter for the borrower to discuss with their lender if there are other options available to resolve their mortgage arrears situation.  Likewise, the borrower, if eligible for social housing support, may also be able to consider other social housing options, including accessing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

  The Abhaile service is a national mortgage arrears resolution service, provided free of charge to  mortgage holders in arrears and its aim is to help these borrowers to find the best solutions and keep them, wherever possible, in their own homes.  The unique element of Abhaile is that it brings together, for the first time, the full range of supports and services required by borrowers in home mortgage arrears.  A dedicated adviser will work with the borrower and their lender to find the best solution for their particular situation.  The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) acts as the gateway for the service and can be contacted by telephoning (076)1072000 or by accessing their website at: www.mabs.ie/abhaile.

Homeless Accommodation Provision

 78. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the status of the quality standards framework inspection regime for emergency homeless accommodation; and when the framework will be in place. [8450/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities. This includes operational issues such as ensuring that contracted services are delivered in a professional manner, that inspections take place and that homeless families/individuals can report issues to the relevant authority. 

In this regard, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has been overseeing the development of a quality standards framework, coordinating this work in consultation with an advisory group, which includes representation from various housing authorities, service providers, Tusla, clients and other stakeholders, with a view to having the finalised standards adopted on a national basis by individual housing authorities.  

Guidance on the national implementation of a quality standards framework will be issued to all local authorities before the end of Q1 2019.

  Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 74.


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