First-time buyers to test-drive purchases
FIRST-time buyers will be allowed to test-drive new homes before deciding to buy under a scheme aimed at shifting stocks of unsold council housing units.
The Department of the Environment said yesterday it would join private developers in offering a rent-to-buy scheme aimed at selling the 1,100 unsold affordable housing units owned by local authorities.
The scheme, which will be unveiled next month, will only apply in the Dublin City Council area but could be expanded.
The department said that in most cases, rent paid in a three-year period could be offset against the cost of the home. It hopes to sell 187 units in Dublin.
"We'll be announcing a pilot rent-to-buy scheme which will be similar to those in the private sector," a spokesman said.
"Some of the rent paid will be offset against the cost of the units, but it will vary from place to place. Some areas are easier to sell than others and not all the rent will be offset, depending on the location."
The department also said that 1,300 affordable housing units owned by local authorities were sold last year.
The affordable homes, which are priced to help people on lower incomes purchase their own property, were left unsold after the property market collapsed.
Last February it emerged that 3,700 units were lying empty.
New figures from the Department of the Environment show that 1,300 were sold, and another 2,000 leased for social housing purposes.
A total of 1,933 units have been leased for five-year terms. When these leases expire, the properties may be sold.
Housing Minister Michael Finneran said that local authorities were considering "all options", including more leasing arrangements, to dispose of the 1,100 unsold units in stock.