Concerns about mortgage-to-rent provider repairs flagged months ago

Internal records show several local authorities complained about Home for Life repairs

A number of local authorities previously complained about the standard of repair works in a State mortgage-to-rent scheme that aims to keep defaulting borrowers from losing their homes.

The Housing Agency, which oversees the scheme, has said it is investigating concerns around repair works carried out by Home for Life (HFL), a Co Wicklow company that is the largest provider in the scheme.

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 the properties to providers signed up to the scheme, such as HFL.

The company is supposed to complete any necessary repairs within three months but questions over such works led the Housing Agency in October to suspend the issuing of new agreements for leases to HFL.


In a briefing for Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in November, the Housing Agency said it felt it “could not stand over” issuing further lease agreements to HFL, until the company had completed repairs “on a satisfactory number of properties”.

Documents released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act show the State agency’s concerns about the standard of repairs had been growing for several months.

‘Satisfactory completion’

In an October 24th internal briefing, the Housing Agency noted concerns with “fit-out works to properties” was a challenge facing the scheme.

The briefing, written by Clare Feeney, Housing Agency director of services, said Dublin City Council (DCC) had complained about a “lack of satisfactory completion of works” on homes refurbished by HFL. “DCC decided to suspend rent on approximately 20 properties and reinstate rent as works were completed,” the note said. It added two other local councils had complained about similar issues.

Overall inspections of properties showed a “high proportion” of cases where repair works “were not to a satisfactory standard”, it said.

HFL is the largest provider in the mortgage-to-rent scheme with more than 900 properties. iCare, a non-profit organisation founded by David Hall, is the second-largest provider, with about 450 completed properties.

Under mortgage-to-rent rules, the local authority and HFL are required to carry out an inspection of the property within five months of any repair works being completed.

An internal analysis found in inspections of 224 HFL properties carried out by late October that 166 homes had “issues” and would need further work to be carried out.

Minimum standards

In one case, where Kildare County Council officials inspected a HFL property in October, they told the Housing Agency the house “contravened most of the minimum standards for rented houses”.

The council wrote to the Housing Agency on September 16th, stating out of 27 inspections of homes where HFL carried out works since late last year, there were issues with all of the properties. Internal emails show the agency had been aware of issues with HFL repair works since March. An earlier analysis carried out then found of a sample 43 properties inspected by local authorities, in 37 cases works were “not carried out satisfactorily”.

HFL chief executive Paul Cunningham said most of the issues identified during inspections were “minor”, and it was working with local authorities to address them. The pause in the company being given any new leases was “100 per cent”, a short-term blip, he said.

“We would be extremely confident that this will be remedied to everyone’s satisfaction,” he told The Irish Times.

Department of Housing officials also raised concerns about a legal case taken by O’Dwyer Property Management against HFL, over a dispute about who would carry out repair works.

In an October 13th email, the department told HFL the case “runs the risk of reputational damage” for the wider scheme, adding they “do not feel it was appropriate” officials first heard of the legal case in the media.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times