Housing for All: What is in the plan for you?

New plan promises building of some 310,000 new homes and an end to homelessness by 2030

A vacant property tax is among one of the measures planned but the Government will take time to collect data on vacancy levels. File photograph

A vacant property tax is among one of the measures planned but the Government will take time to collect data on vacancy levels. File photograph

 

The Government’s housing plans will cost billions and promises much. But what exactly is it setting out to deliver?

The headline numbers

Minister Darragh O’Brien has said the plan represents the “largest State building programme in our history”, promising 312,750 new homes between 2022 to the end of 2030.

Ninety thousand of these will be social housing, let by local authorities, or housing bodies, along with 53,800 affordable and cost rental homes will be built, too. In all, 170,550 will be privately-owned, or rented.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has previously estimated that 33,000 new homes are needed every year. The Housing for All plan pledges to go further, delivering 33,450 homes in 2024 and 40,500 a year by in 2030.

First Time Buyers

Affordability is key for this group, as they struggle to save for a mortgage deposit while paying high rents. The Government hopes increased supply will cool house price inflation.

However, the plan also includes two affordable housing schemes that are to make 4,000 such homes available each year , along with a new affordable purchase shared equity scheme for first-time buyers.

Prices for qualifying homes will be capped at €225,000 in rural areas, or up to €450,000 in the most expensive parts of Dublin. Up to 20 per cent of the cost will be covered by the State, or up to 30 per cent if the Help-to-Buy scheme is not used.

A different local authority-led Affordable Purchase scheme will cover affordable homes costing up to €250,000. The extension of the Help-to-Buy scheme beyond the end of 2021 is to be considered as part of the upcoming Budget. 

Houses in new estates will be kept for first-time buyers and other owner-occupiers under an “owner-occupier guarantee” that will be brought in by the end of 2021. The Local Authority Home Loan scheme is to be expanded so that single applicants with gross income of up to €65,000 in the Greater Dublin Area as well as Cork and Galway will be eligible.

Renters

Perhaps the centrepiece of the Government’s plans to help tenants is the delivery of an average of 2,000 cost rental homes per year, or 18,000 by the end of 2030.

In the cost-rental system, rents are based on the cost of building, managing and maintaining the homes, and not market rates – with rents generally being 25 per cent below the market.

Rent Pressure Zones limiting increases in high-costs districts will be extended to 2024, while new controls on short-term lettings such as AirBnB will be brought in, too through a Fáilte Ireland registration system.

The Government intend to legislate for tenancies of indefinite duration of the kind seen on the Continent. However, this is “subject to legal advice”. Up-front deposit and rent payments are to be capped at two months value.

Low-income households, older people and other groups

Simply put, 90,000 social homes by 2030 will cut the housing list numbers, the Government argues. Reforms of the “Fair Deal” nursing home scheme will encourage older people in long-term care to rent or sell their property.

However, plans to encourage older people to downsize to free up family-sized homes have not been included in the plan. More work is still being done on this idea, says Mr O’Brien.

While many want to move to smaller homes, there are currently few options for them . Divorced people, or those who have gone through insolvency will be able to apply for a “fresh start” affordable home.

Homelessness

The plan commits to eradicating homelessness by 2030. There will be a focus on people with a history of rough sleeping or long-term use of emergency accommodation through 1,200 new Housing First tenancies over the next five years.

Implementation measures

There are 230 actions in the plan. The Land Development Agency (LDA) which is tasked with boosting housing supply on State-owned land will see its spending power increase by €1 billion to €3.5 billion. It will also have a role in activating dormant planning permissions. A new system of “Land-Value Sharing” will see developers or land-owners required to pay a proportion of the increased value of a holding if the land is rezoned for housing.

It is a move designed to discourage property speculation and the proceeds are to be spent on infrastructure and social housing. An average of 9,500 social homes per year are to be built over the course of the plan and long-term leasing of such homes by local authorities is to be phased out.

A vacant property tax is planned but the Government will take time to collect data on vacancy levels. It seems likely it will be 2023 at the earliest before such a tax will be introduced. The Croí Cónaithe fund will help service sites and refurbish vacant properties in regional towns and villages.

There are to be planning exemptions for “above shop” conversions and a nationwide Council-led Compulsory Purchase Order scheme to buy vacant homes. An estimated 27,500 new construction workers are needed to meet the home building targets and school leavers will be encouraged to take up new apprenticeship options.