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Delivering affordable homes

Affordability is at the core of the Government’s Housing for All policy, with a target of 6,000 affordable homes to be made available every year for purchase or rent by local authorities, approved housing bodies, and the Land Development Agency. The plan aims for the delivery of 54,000 affordable homes by 2030 and a number of different schemes to increase affordability.

The affordable housing unit within The Housing Agency supports the delivery of affordable homes by providing loans for cost rental homes and a loan underwriting service for local authorities. The team also provides guidance and support to local authorities, approved housing bodies, and the Land Development Agency. It assists the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in the rollout of affordable schemes.

A number of affordable housing schemes have been introduced since the inception of Housing for All, and the need to communicate the different supports and schemes available is now being supported by two new websites.

On 18 September, The Housing Agency, on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, launched a new information website for affordable housing schemes called Affordablehomes.ie. The website is available to the public to provide information on the affordable purchase and cost rental schemes as well as other supports available such as the Help to Buy scheme and the Local Authority Home Loan.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has also launched the Doors Open campaign, which provides useful information on the supports and initiatives available to people who are looking to rent or buy.

A list of schemes and initiatives is available at www.gov.ie/doorsopen.

Affordable Purchase Scheme

Under the Affordable Purchase Scheme, local authorities will make newly built homes available at a reduced price for first-time buyers who cannot afford to purchase a home at its open market value with a maximum mortgage and 10 per cent deposit.

The local authority will take a percentage equity share in the home equal to the difference between the open market value of the home and the reduced price paid. This means that if a person buys a home at a 20 per cent reduction on the open market value, the local authority will have a 20 per cent equity share in their home. A person can redeem or ‘buy out’ the equity share in part or in full at a
time of their choosing, but there is no obligation to do so.

Cost rental

Cost rental is a new housing tenure in Ireland, where rents are based on the cost of provision rather than market rents. The rent paid covers the cost of construction, management, and maintenance of homes. Approved housing bodies, the Land Development Agency and local authorities are offering cost rental homes to eligible applicants, aimed at people who have a net household income of €66,000 or below in Dublin or €59,000 or below in the rest of the country.

The provision of cost rental homes is funded by the Government through fixed rate loans provided by the Housing Finance Agency and the Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL), provided by The Housing Agency for up to 45 per cent of the capital costs. CREL is a low-cost loan at 1 per cent simple interest that is not repayable until the end of the 40-year loan period.

The Housing Agency worked with Respond, Tuath and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to deliver the first cost rental scheme of 50 homes at Woodside, Enniskerry Road. A total of 694 cost rental homes have been delivered since the launch of Housing for All, with a further 409 scheduled for delivery up to the end of 2024.

In addition to providing cost rental equity loans to support the delivery of cost rental homes by approved housing bodies, The Housing Agency is involved with two other cost rental schemes: the Secure Tenancy Affordable Rental investment scheme (STAR) and the Cost Rental Tenant in-Situ scheme (CRTiS). The Housing Agency also plays a role in assessing Affordable Housing Fund applications for local authority cost rental homes, on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) was introduced to enable Local Authorities access funding to assist them to deliver affordable purchase and cost rental homes.

The Secure Tenancy Affordable Rental investment scheme (STAR) is intended to support the delivery of cost rental by the Land Development Agency and private sector entities. Approved housing bodies can also avail of this scheme.

The scheme is managed by The Housing Agency on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) and is intended to address challenges in the housing sector including construction inflation, increased financial costs and interest rate induced softening of yields.

Tenants for dwellings provided under this scheme may only be selected per the eligibility parameters for cost rental homes set out in part 3 of the AHA 2021 (as amended) and associated cost rental letting and eligibility regulations set out under S.I. 755/2021 (as amended) and in accordance with any guidance set out by the Minister in relation to cost rental homes.

The Housing Agency can be contacted on its dedicated email address STARIS@housingagency.ie.

The Housing Agency is playing a key role in the new Cost Rental Tenant In-Situ (CRTiS) Scheme to support tenants at risk of homelessness. The scheme has been in effect since 1 April 2023.

The scheme is available if the tenant household:

  • is not able to purchase the property from the landlord;
  • is at risk of homelessness;
  • is not eligible for, or currently in receipt of social housing supports (that is in receipt of HAP or in the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)); or
  • must have net annual income of below €66,000 per annum for Dublin and €59,000 for everywhere else in the country.

If the local authority is satisfied that the applicant tenant household is eligible for CRTiS, it will pass the details of the tenant and the property to The Housing Agency for consideration for potential acquisition under the CRTiS Scheme. The Housing Agency will then engage with the tenant regarding the assessment of their eligibility for the scheme and the tenant’s landlord regarding the suitability of the property for the scheme, with a view to acquiring the property.

The Housing Agency is involved in a number of affordable housing schemes, including the Affordable Purchase Scheme, cost rental housing delivery, the Cost Rental Tenant in-Situ (CRTiS) Scheme, and the Secure Tenancy Affordable Rental investment scheme (STAR). The Housing Agency is working towards delivering sustainable and affordable housing for all.

If a tenant has a query about the Cost Rental Tenant in-Situ or the other measures introduced to assist tenants they can contact The Housing Agency:

T: 1800 000 024
E: tenantinsitu@housingagency.ie.
W: www.housingagency.ie