Local authorities to buy up to 500 ‘turnkey’ homes

Move aims to boost supply of affordable and social houses sold at discount to first-timers

Local authorities around the State are seeking buy up to 500 “turnkey” homes from builders in a new bid to boost the supply of affordable and social housing.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has set aside €55 million to help councils buy homes off-plan next year in Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny.

The properties will be sold on to buyers nominated by local authorities as being eligible for affordable and social homes, with councils providing between €50,000 and €100,000 of the purchase price in each case.

Local authorities in Westmeath, Meath, Wicklow, Kildare, Louth and Laois will also seek "turnkey opportunities" under the Housing for All plan to boost the numbers of affordable houses in areas of acute shortage.

Cost-rental homes

The homes will be sold at “discounted prices” to first-time buyers. Some may be offered as cost-rental homes at rents targeted “at a minimum 25 per cent below” open market rates, he said.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council in Dublin put out a call on Thursday to builders and developers, saying it wants to buy unbuilt houses or apartments with planning permission in advance of construction.

“This call is targeted at advance purchase opportunities for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 150 dwellings in any one scheme, but the council is willing to consider all proposals, including those for less than 10 dwellings,” it said.

Under previous initiatives to buy uncommenced or partially completed homes, the council bought a small scheme of 14 dwellings in 2018. This year it acquired 27 dwellings in two locations.

Waiting list

The council recognised that a “significant number” of permitted developments have not commenced, even if planning permission numbers have increased significantly.

Some of the Dún Laoghaire houses will be allocated to people eligible for social housing. There were 4,144 households on the council’s housing waiting list in mid-November.

Asked whether the scheme might reduce housing supply for other buyers and drive up prices, the council said it was seeking expressions of interest in relation to developments that have not commenced.

The plan offers “financial certainty, with a view to facilitating the delivery of much-needed affordable and social housing that might not otherwise be developed”, it said.

The Local Government Management Agency, a State body that provides services to councils, said agreements to buy an approved number of homes were anticipated "with payment on completion".

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times