Deputy Jackie Cahill: call to amend Tenant Purchase Scheme
Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill has called on the Minister for Housing to address the anomalies in the Tenant Purchase Scheme which make it almost impossible for older people or people who have separated from their spouses to buy their own home.
“There is a huge affordability crisis in Tipperary and people on low and middle incomes are unable to afford to buy a home. The flawed conditions contained in the Tenant Purchase Scheme is further compounding this problem as people living in local authority houses are being blocked from buying them”, said Deputy Cahill.
He said that opening a pathway to home ownership was at the heart of Fianna Fáil policy and the right to buy under the Tenant Purchase Scheme had been an important tool in extending home ownership opportunities to low income households.
However, new qualifying rules were making it extremely difficult for people in receipt of social welfare to qualify. They also placed severe restrictions on people who previously owned a home with a former partner or who may have been left a house by a parent.
“While the local authority will agree to sell them a house, it will not lend them money for the purchase because they have previously owned another property. Banks will also not lend to them because of the incremental purchase charge the local authority imposed on the house," he said.
The Thurles-based TD said that the scheme restrictions were particularly cruel when older people, who may have been living in their home for 30 or 40 years, were prevented from buying their house. It didn't matter if they had saved the money to buy their home, the rules of the scheme disqualify them from participating because their current income is solely based on social welfare payments. The majority of these cases involve people in their 70s and 80s - the bulk of their income is coming from their pension.
“These houses are not considered viable housing stock because in many instances family members continue to live with their parents and the house is then transferred to the son, daughter or other person living there. It is very unfair that those elderly people are being discriminated against because they do not have an annual earned income of at least €15,000," said Deputy Cahill.
He said that a review of the scheme was established by the former Housing Minister Simon Coveney, and current Minister Eoghan Murphy had confirmed to him that that review had been completed and the report finalised.
“This report needs to be published as soon as possible and the Minister must ensure that those who demonstrate they are able to buy their home are allowed to enter into the Tenant Purchase Scheme,” said Deputy Cahill.