Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term

Analysis: Living cities initiative to kick in next year

Housing measures announced by Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin in their budget speeches yesterday will have the greatest impact in the capital, where the housing crisis is at its worst.

Last week, it emerged that Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list had risen to almost 20,000 applicants, up 3,000 on last year.

In the private sector, house prices and rents in the city are increasing at a greater rate than anywhere in the State, corresponding to a lack of supply in the market.

Capital investment of more than €2.2 billion for more than 10,000 social homes over the next three years will allow local authorities and housing bodies to build new homes, but also to buy or lease existing housing .

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Limited impact

The ability to acquire existing housing would have the most immediate impact on the housing crisis, but its effect in the capital will be limited, according to

Simon Brooke

, head of policy at

Clúid Housing

, one of the largest voluntary housing bodies in the State.

“We are delighted at the trebling in capital funding for social housing, but it is not an instant solution. If construction starts tomorrow, it would take two years for that house to be completed, and there aren’t really any houses in Dublin available to buy for social housing.”

An additional 3,000 households will be housed by local authorities through the leasing of houses in 2015, Mr Howlin said.

However, this is also unlikely to make much of a dent in the city’s housing waiting list as landlords are currently removing their properties from the rental accommodation scheme (RAS) in Dublin city at three times the rate that they are offering them for social housing use. Ninety more landlords had given the council notice that they want to quit the scheme by April this year.

Only six homes have become available to Dublin City Council this year under the scheme, which was set up in 2004 to offset the lack of social housing construction. Under the scheme, local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people who have been on the waiting list for more than 18 months, and pay rent directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

The extension of the home renovation scheme to rental properties could bring currently uninhabitable properties to the market in Dublin. Mr Noonan said he expected the savings realised by landlords would be reflected in rent levels. Whether or not that materialises remains to be seen.

Residents of older and historic houses in Dublin will finally benefit from the Living Cities initiative. The measure, which enables residents of pre-1915 buildings to claim tax relief at a rate of 10 per cent a year over a 10-year period for the cost of refurbishment works, was launched in Waterford and Limerick 2012 and extended to Dublin in the last budget. There will be “a full roll-out of the initiative in early 2015”, Mr Noonan said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times