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Public consultation on council house purchases

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De La Salle estate in Ardee. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Residents in Ardee who are unable to purchase their council homes due to the limits of the current Incremental Tenants Purchase Scheme may see their situation change in the future – after the Department of Housing announced a new public consultation into the scheme.

Currently, people living in council houses must earn €15,000 a year to qualify to purchase their house – formerly simply being a tenant was enough – which rules out many people from even having the chance to buy their home.

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Independent councillor Jim Tenanty told ThisIsArdee.ie this week that he has received several representations from locals in both De La Salle and Ferdia Park in relation to their inability to purchase their houses  – even if they have the funds to do so.

Tenanty first brought up the issue at local Strategic Policy Committee meeting last year and that issue was again raised at December’s Louth County Council meeting. His motion sought to get the Minister of Housing Simon Coveney to set aside the minimum income limit requirement, in response to those local tenants who are in receipt of social welfare but have sufficient resources to purchase their council houses.

“I have representations from three local tenants who want to buy their houses. The Government have now said that they’re going to review it because of this motion,” the councillor said.

“There is a €15,000 a year income level. This actually stops somebody from purchasing their own house. A lot of these people are retired or would be widowed and receive money from an insurance policy – but they don’t want to buy a house outside of where they were all their lives.

“There are people in the town who would love to buy their own house but are barred from it because they don’t have an income. I thought this was very unfair,” he continued.

“These people have funds through inheritance or savings and can buy a house anywhere, but they don’t want to leave their home. It didn’t make sense. That’s why I brought the motion to the SPC. Minister Coveney  has decided that he’s going to look into it.”

The Incremental Tenants Purchase Scheme was launched in 2016 with several changes including the €15,000 income requirement and in line with the Rebuilding Ireland Plan, the public consultation of the scheme’s performance over the last 12 months begins this January.

It will examine the sale of local authority houses during 2016 with a view to identifying the impact of the changes to the scheme as outlined above.

“It just shows the system works sometimes. This public consultation is nationwide, not just Louth County Council. Things do get listened to. Politics does work sometimes – it might not be a result, but it’s gone up to a public consultation now and that’s good news.

“It’s good news for old age pensioners or people on social welfare that have lost their job, living in a council house and are excluded from buying a house. They could have got a lump sum in a redundancy.”

The Department is inviting interested parties to make written submissions or comments, preferably in electronic format, on the Incremental Tenant Purchase Scheme 2016 by 6pm on Monday 6th February 2017 to [email protected] or by post to the Social Housing Policy Section, Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Custom House, Dublin 1. Submissions should be as succinct as possible.

You can find more information on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government website here.

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