Three solutions to the rental crisis

Better accommodation for older people, tax relief for refurbishments, and a new public-private building model would all help

The notion of the State getting back into bed with developers makes people nervous

The notion of the State getting back into bed with developers makes people nervous

 

Promote the living city initiative

This tax incentive scheme, a successor to the Living Over the Shop scheme, allows owners of houses that are at least 100 years old to claim tax relief for their refurbishment, at a rate of 10 per cent per year for 10 years, and applies specifically to city centres. It was well flagged having been introduced in Budget 2014, but only came into effect last April because of a requirement to make changes to the Finance Act so the scheme could meet EU state aid rules. However, since April only eight people have submitted applications to Dublin City Council for the scheme.

A new public-private building model

This means private developers building on public land for both private and social renters. The notion of the State getting back into bed with developers makes people nervous. In the old public-private partnership arrangements councils supplied the land and developers built social and private housing, using the sale of the private properties to offset the cost of the council housing. But the plan fell asunder when the market crashed. Under a new model the council would not sell the land and most, if not all, of the housing would remain in the rental market. Unlike traditional council estates, there would be a mix of social and private tenants.

More housing for older people

Local authorities have previously had voluntary schemes whereby older people who had raised their families in council houses and no longer needed three bedrooms could surrender the house and move into a senior citizens complex. However, particularly in Dublin there are not the spaces in these complexes to move people into, particularly since the council has started its “two into one” policy – a good move in terms of improving the standard of accommodation by creating larger one bedroom apartments from old bedsits. It needs to be matched with greater provision of housing for older people.

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