Families hoping to retain ownership of the homes where they were raised are being hampered by a rule that bars some people from buying out their council homes according to Independent TD Noel Grealish
Deputy Grealish has called on the Government to scrap the rule that discriminates against people on social welfare.
He cited the examples of two elderly couples in Galway whose families are prepared to act as guarantors, and indeed pay off the loan required, but have been told by the Galway City Council that they do not qualify because their only income is the old age pension.
A new tenant (incremental ) purchase scheme introduced in January 2016 allows tenants of local authority houses buy their homes, paying the market value of the house, less a discount of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent, depending on income.
Deputy Grealish said; “But one of the rules that is proving to be a big problem demands that people must have an annual income of at least €15,000 and those whose only income is a social welfare payment do not qualify.
“My constituency office is dealing at the moment with two families who are being caught by this rule, one in Mervue and and the other in Ballybane, and I am aware of several more families who have also run into the problem.
“In one case, you have a husband and wife, both old age pensioners, living in the house which has been their home for many decades and where they raised their whole family. They had hoped to avail of the tenant purchase scheme that came into effect last year but have been told by the local authority that they do not qualify because of the income rule.
“Their children, who naturally do not want to see the place where they grew up going out of the family’s hands down the road and who want their parents to be able to say they finally own their home, are prepared to act as guarantors for the loan that would be needed — indeed the reality is that they would be paying off the money themselves.
“But the council will not accept this, insisting that the rules bar their parents from taking advantage of the tenant purchase scheme.”
Deputy Grealish said there were other aspects of the scheme that were of concern, including the fact that it also excludes people living in ‘Part V’ homes that were secured by local councils in private estates. Part V of the planning and development act requires developers to set aside a certain percentage of land for the provision of social and affordable housing.