Thursday 29 September 2016

Tax breaks to fast-track new homes

Developers get sweeteners to build affordable housing

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

The PRTB will be given a suite of new responsibilities in the coming weeks as it becomes the overarching watchdog of the rental sector
The PRTB will be given a suite of new responsibilities in the coming weeks as it becomes the overarching watchdog of the rental sector

Developers will be given tax incentives for building affordable houses in Dublin selling for under €300,000.

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In an effort to increase the supply of accommodation, new apartment guidelines will reduce the cost of building by €20,000 per unit.

After months of differences within the Coalition, ministers finally announced a package of measures aimed at giving certainty to tenants and increasing the supply of housing.

Under the plan, developers who build and sell affordable housing at below €300,000 in Dublin and €250,000 in Cork will be eligible for a rebate of local authority development levies on sale of the property.

The builders will have to show how they are passing on savings to buyers.

New laws will be introduced to fast-track changes to planning within strategic development zones so that developments can be built more quickly.

New planning standards for apartments will reduce the costs of building apartments by at least €20,000 per unit. The Government believes developers in Dublin were waiting for new guidelines to take effect in 2017 before starting to build.

As a result, new National Guidelines will now be brought into effect.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the new measures will incentivise the construction of new housing.

"One of the principle causes of the last boom and bust was the unsustainable size of the construction sector. However, we have now gone from a situation of building far too many homes to not building enough to support our growing population.

"This is having an impact on everyone looking for a home, from first time buyers to low income households and it threatens our recovery," he said.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly accepted the supply of housing will take some time to introduce.

The new Coalition plan is intended to provide tenants with more protection and stronger representation. Landlords will only be able to raise rents every two years.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) will be beefed up in terms of both staff and resources so that it can adequately police the rental market, Mr Kelly said.

But the minister declined to say how he will ensure the PRTB does not become "overloaded" as a result of his 'rent certainty' package.

The agency will be given a suite of new responsibilities in the coming weeks as it becomes the overarching watchdog of the rental sector.

Among the measures it will monitor are the restrictions on landlords to introduce just a single rent increase over two years - the cornerstone of the rent certainty package.

The measure, which doubles the current rent review period, will ensure most tenants enjoy a rent freeze in 2016.

A sunset clause will be in place until 2019 - after which it is hoped housing supply will be significantly increased through the use of properties currently under the control of the National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

The rent certainty package, unveiled by Mr Kelly and Mr Noonan yesterday, will see increases in eviction notice periods and new planning guidelines surrounding small apartments.

Landlords will have to provide details of three other accommodation examples in their respective areas in order to justify a rent increase.

Some 100pc mortgage interest relief will be given to landlords who house families through the so-called Housing Assistance Payment scheme.

And landlords who dupe tenants by falsely claiming they are selling their properties face fines of up to €3,000.

There are also a number of measures surrounding anti-social behaviour.

The District Court will be used instead of the Circuit Court for PRTB cases which, it is hoped, will speed up the process.

And the plan will make it easier for residents' associations to take complaints against landlords failing to deal with unruly tenants.

The package was unveiled following months of Coalition infighting.

But Mr Kelly rejected suggestions that the experience was "bruising".

Irish Independent

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