Parties Row Over FF Housing Policy

22 Jan 2020 | 07.50 am

Parties Row Over FF Housing Policy

Property SSIA catches attention

22 Jan 2020 | 07.50 am

With housing and homelessness a key issue in the general election, Fianna Fáil has said its policies will aim at ‘enabling’ home ownership, with a package of measures valued at €2.1 billion in additional spending to boost the sector.

Housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien (pictured) announced an SSIA-style top-up scheme for first time buyers, offering a subsidy of 33% of savings, capped at €10,000, an expansion of the Help to Buy scheme, and a promise to build 50,000 affordable homes that would be priced for sale at under €250,000. The top-up scheme is aimed at helping buyers save their deposit.

Download Fianna Fáil Housing policy document

O’Brien said Fianna Fáil will “slash red tape” by raising those local authorities’ spending caps for housing development to €6m, a policy he said had been agreed with Fine Gael over two years only to be “reneged upon” by the governing party.

Fine Gael and Sinn Fein derided the plans, with Sinn Fein’s Eoin O’ Broin describing them as a “fiasco”.

Under the Fianna Fáil plans, 50,000 new social housing units would be built directly, while land hoarding and underuse of properties will be penalised, with the vacant site levy to double to 14% and a 200-strong short-term let task force created to ensure local councils enforce the regulations.

There would also be a €600 rent tax credit for all private renters and a lifetime deposit scheme, which would follow the tenant. Homeless funding would increase to €250m per annum, roughly €80m up on current levels.

Local Authority spending thresholds would be increased from €2m to €6m to cut red tape, while the party promised to cut construction costs by reducing development levies on condition that construction is completed, expanding apprenticeship places in construction trades by 10,000, and streamlining regulations.

O’Brien said that ‘cuckoo funds’ would be banned from buying apartments in new developments, or from buying entire developments.

FF Housing Policy

Strengthening Home Ownership
– 33% SSIA Top Up scheme for First Time Buyers.
– Retain and expand the Help to Buy scheme.
– Build 50,000 Affordable Homes for purchase at below €250,000.
– Change planning laws to prevent cuckoo funds buying up whole developments.

Direct Build Social and affordable homes
– Direct build 50,000 new social housing units.
– Slash red tape by raising Local Authority spending thresholds from €2m to €6m.

Cutting construction costs
– Reduce Development Levies on condition of construction being completed.
– Streamline regulations to make it easier to convert above the shop spaces.
– Expand Apprenticeship places to 10,000.

Penalising hoarding and underuse of land and property
– Increase Vacant Site levy to 14%.
– Launch a 200 strong Local Authority Short Term lettings taskforce.
– Reform and consolidate planning & Compulsory Purchase Order laws.

Helping Generation Rent
– Introduce a €600 rent tax credit for all private renters.
– Create a National Rent Deposit Scheme with a “life time deposit” that moves with the tenant until they withdraw it. (€8m to set up)
– Overhaul the RTB by doubling its resources to undertake active investigations.

Ending Homelessness
– Allocate adequate funding to address rough sleeping on our streets as a matter of priority by increasing homeless funding to €250m per annum.
– Set up a new specific rolling acquisition fund in the Housing Agency to purchase repossessed units and keep those tenants in place.

Bertienomics

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said that  the proposed SSiA-type scheme runs the risk of fuelling further house price inflation. “They have also proposed a 5% increase in the Help to Buy Scheme. This has all the hallmarks of the bad old days of Bertienomics,” he said.

Sinn Fein has pledged to build 100,000 public homes on public land, including 60,000 social homes, 30,000 affordable purchase homes and 10,000 affordable rental homes.

Affordable purchase homes would be available at or below €250,000, with affordable rental homes would be available at or below €900 per month, while income eligibility for affordable housing would be set at €50,000 for a single person and €75,000 for a couple.

Fine Gael Response

On the SSIA proposal, Fine Gael said Fainna Fáil should answer the following questions:

  • Why is there a cap on the number of applicants every year at 25,000? Does Fianna Fáil believe in excluding aspiring home owners? Will people be excluded? Can Fianna Fáil explain how this cap will work?
  • What measures are in place to prevent owners of existing homes or parents on behalf of their children from joining the scheme?
  • Can Fianna Fáil set out how they will ensure savings are used for house purchases? How will it work with Help to Buy?
  • Why will it take three years before any payments are made to aspiring homeowners?
  • Will it apply to owners of new and second hand properties?
  • What will it do to increase supply?

 

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