FF bill proposes giving more tenants a chance to buy homes
It is time to give thousands of families in social housing the chance to buy their own homes, Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen has said.
Mr Cowen told the Dáil that a new draft law he was proposing would overhaul the Tenant Purchase Scheme which would extend the opportunity to buy beyond the standard council homes. He said the changes would "make the scheme fit for purpose" by extending it to so-called "Part V" homes provided for social housing under the Development Act 2000.
"This bill will address the fact that voluntary housing tenants are barred from the scheme as it currently stands. The previous government introduced the Tenant Purchase Scheme last January," Mr Cowen said.
But Housing Minister Simon Coveney said there were already plans to review the new Tenant Purchase Scheme which only came into effect in January this year. Mr Coveney said there was provision to review the scheme by a deadline of March 31 next year, and there was also a commitment to look particularly at the chances of extending it to social housing.
But Mr Cowen argued for change sooner. "Fianna Fáil highlighted serious deficiencies with the scheme. We have consistently pointed out that the removal of Part V homes is problematic as it closes off the scheme to thousands of potential buyers," he said.
Mr Cowen said only 73 applications had been made under the new scheme so far this year. "This clearly highlights that the scheme has failed and is in need of urgent overhaul. The bill we have introduced in the Dáil seeks to do just that," he said.
"Fianna Fáil is looking for cross-party support to progress this important bill. We believe that home ownership is good for families and good for communities,"
Mr Cowen said the Government's €5.5bn housing plan, published on Tuesday, would not help families already in social housing if they were not allowed own their own home.
Mr Coveney said the whole idea of tenant purchase helped people in council homes and was socially progressive.
"Money received from tenant purchases can be used to invest in a range of social housing supports, including the provision of additional houses and the refurbishment and maintenance of existing houses," he said.