Wednesday 20 September 2017

Just 17 developers have signed up to help-to-buy scheme

The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party’s Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh. Photo: Damien Eagers
The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party’s Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh. Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil is demanding changes to the Government's controversial first-time buyers' grant after it emerged just 17 contractors across the country have registered.

The main opposition party last night said first-time buyers have found themselves in the "distressing" situation whereby contractors they have approached say they are not registered for the help-to-buy scheme.

Under the scheme, buyers can avail of a maximum refund of €20,000 for newly-built properties valued up to €400,000.

The measure was one of the cornerstones of Budget 2016.

But figures provided by the Revenue Commissioners show just 17 contractors or developers have registered with the scheme.

A spokeswoman for Revenue last night said the grant is not available to buyers who approach a developer that has not registered.

Read more: Comment - To combat the housing supply shortfall, our developers need 'Help to Build' measures

She said that this requirement is laid down in the recently passed legislation.

"Where a contractor is not a 'qualifying contractor', the first-time buyer would not qualify for any refund under the incentive," the spokeswoman said.

"The contractors' registration requires consent to publication of their name and tax registration number on the Revenue website as a 'qualifying contractor', so that potential purchasers can check that the contractor is qualifying."

The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party's Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh.

Last night, Ms Ardagh called on Housing Minister Simon Coveney to consider making registration mandatory for contractors.

She said she has been contacted by first-time buyers who are upset over the issue.

"It simply isn't good enough that the Government and Mr Coveney have allowed a situation to arise where they have made this commitment to first-time buyers, and yet only 17 contractors in the entire country have registered," Ms Ardagh told the Irish Independent.

"That means many developments across the country, and particularly in Dublin, presently do not qualify for the grant. With rising house prices and exorbitant rents, it is grossly unfair, adding further pressure to purchasers.

"I am calling on Mr Coveney to explain how he has left first-time buyers in this situation and what steps he will take to urgently rectify the matter, perhaps make registering with revenue mandatory."

Irish Independent

Also in Business