Investigation into whether Home for Life repairs carried out

Housing Agency looks into actions of private company with more than 900 mortgage-to-rent properties

The State body that oversees mortgage-to-rent deals is investigating whether essential repairs have been completed on hundreds of homes controlled by the only private company in the scheme.

The investigation by the Housing Agency comes amid concern in the Department of Housing about “issues with the repair work” on certain properties owned by Home for Life, a Co Wicklow company that has acquired more than 900 mortgage-to-rent properties over four years.

The scheme was introduced a decade ago to give defaulting borrowers the option of staying in their home as renters after surrendering ownership of the property to a mortgage lender. The local authority collects rent as a landlord when the lender sells such properties to Home for Life.

The company is supposed to complete any necessary repairs within three months but questions over such works led the agency in October to suspend the issuing of new agreements for lease under the scheme.


“The catalyst was that I was hearing that works weren’t being completed,” said Claire Feeney, Housing Agency director of services. “My current engagement with the local authorities is around the fact that it was said to us that a lot of the repairs weren’t being done.

“Home for Life have now informed us that they have completed work on the majority of the properties and we are now engaging with the local authorities to ensure they carry out the inspections in a speedy time frame and we’re supporting them to look at engaging with third parties to assist them.”

There was no comment from Paul Cunningham, a Home for Life director who owns one-third of the business. Directors Maximillian O’Reilly Hyland and Charles O’Reilly Hyland own the rest.

Under mortgage-to-rent rules, the local authority and Home for Life are required to carry out an inspection of the completed works within five months of completion.

While works are said to have concluded on about 850 company properties, only about 160 inspections have been carried out. Further work was required after two-thirds of these inspections, with only about one-third of properties immediately passing.

Ms Feeney said the agency had no comment on the inspection results, adding that she was not investigating the failure rate.

“I’m looking at whether or not the inspections have been done to verify whether or not the work has been done,” she said. “I can’t comment at this point in time on the failure rate because of where I’m at on the work that I’m doing.”

Despite suspending the issuing of “agreements for lease and lease agreements” with Home for Life, Ms Feeney said the agency was operating on a business-as-usual basis with mortgage-to-rent applications. “We’re still accepting properties in. We’re still processing properties.”

The Department of Housing said local authorities have suspended rent payments “in a small number of cases” because of repair work issues, adding that rent payment will resume once such works have been completed to the authorities’ satisfaction.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times