Housing associations are not willing to help people struggling with mortgages in one-off cases, despite them having the ability to do so, according to one elected member of Mayo County Council this week. Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray hit out at the sector saying: "There are people out there in a very serious situation and the only exit strategy they have is at the mercy of the likes of Respond and Clúid in the voluntary housing sector who have no interest in pulling people out of mortgage arrears, certainly in urban areas, and in rural areas especially."
A national mortgage-to-rent scheme is available, for people who are having difficulty paying their mortgage to their private lender, where they switch from owning their home to renting the home as social tenants of a housing association, who will buy the house from the lender. Under the scheme the homeowner will no longer own the home or have any financial interest in it. There are a number of requirements for people to qualify for the scheme, but even if they do, housing associations have no interest it being used, according to Cllr Murray. At a meeting of Mayo County Council's Housing Strategic Policy Committee this week he said: "It's a huge shortcoming in the legislation, because people who have very modest houses, some of them on par with local authority houses that meet the criteria, some housing associations don't want to know and it's a very unfortunate situation for people who are stressed out to the last and this is supposed to be a solution.
"There is no statutory obligation on the voluntary housing sector to come in and to take these people out the situation that they are in, despite the fact that the money is available to them from the housing agency. The excuse they are using is that they have no housing stock in that area and this is a once-off house and we're not going to avail of it and it's a huge problem. It's unfortunate that the Minister will not intervene. Certainly if someone doesn't we'll have a lot more people homeless in Mayo, because there are people in that category and the only exit strategy they have is the intervention of an housing body, and the sad reality is they don't want to know. It's a crisis situation that will arise here over the next 12 to 18 months."