Government planning transfer of 1,400 social housing units to LDA

Transfer from Nama would secure State ownership of the homes

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is preparing to unveil his Housing for All plan which aims to boost the construction of new homes and overhaul housing policy. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is preparing to unveil his Housing for All plan which aims to boost the construction of new homes and overhaul housing policy. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Government is advancing plans to transfer some 1,400 social housing units to the Land Development Agency (LDA) from the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) in a move that will secure State ownership of the homes.

The transfer to the LDA, which comes as Nama winds down its operations, will also enable it to back the expansion of social housing over time.

The arrangement is under discussion as Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien prepares to unveil his Housing for All plan which aims to boost the construction of new homes and overhaul housing policy, the Coalition’s top priority after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The State-owned LDA could increase its stock of public homes by borrowing against the value of the former Nama properties and using the money to build or buy new houses and apartments. Such homes would in turn be leased to local authorities or approved housing bodies and provided to public-housing tenants.

Nama, the State “bad bank”, acquired the 1,400 homes from debtors after it was set up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash to clean up soured property loans. Total lease rental income on the properties in 2019 was €12.38 million, according to a reply to a parliamentary question from Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The properties are currently in the ownership of a Nama subsidiary called National Asset Residential Property Services (Narps). Most are leased at present to approved housing bodies – among them Tuath Housing (539 units), Clúid (202), Co-Operative Housing Ireland (239) and North and East Housing (112) – but some are leased to local authorities.

A person familiar with the plan said those organisations would continue leasing the properties after the transfer but from the LDA, which will not itself manage the properties. Although the deal is not yet finalised, the proposed transfer to the LDA would remove uncertainty over the fate of the Nama properties ahead of its eventual dissolution.

Against the backdrop of political disquiet at social-housing deals with private developers, the essence of the proposal is that lease payments on the former Nama properties would continue going to the State via the LDA.

Nama declined to comment on the transfer of the Narps properties.