Tuesday 24 October 2017

Just one family benefits from 'mortgage-to-rent' scheme

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

A government scheme to help low-income families in mortgage arrears to stay in their home is struggling to get off the ground – almost five months after it was set up.

Only one family has successfully applied for the Government's mortgage-to-rent scheme, which was launched by the Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan last June.

At the time of its launch, the Cluid Housing Association, a not-for-profit organisation, said it could prevent as many as 3,500 people from losing their home. However, almost half of those applying for the scheme have been turned down while hundreds are still waiting for an answer, according to figures from the Department of the Environment.

So far, 517 people have applied for the scheme – but 48 of these were turned down by one lender and another 180 were considered ineligible. Almost 300 people are still waiting for their application to be processed.

"Some lenders seem to be not full square behind the scheme," according to Simon Brooke, head of policy with Cluid. "That is matter of concern to us."

Senior policy researcher with the Free Legal Advice Centres, Paul Joyce, who was on the previous government's debt review group a couple of years ago, said: "There's only been one successful applicant – how can that be described but as a failure?"

When asked why the scheme had such a low uptake, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment said: "These are complex legal transactions involving several parties – homeowners, lenders, approved housing bodies, local authorities and solicitors."

Under the Government's mortgage-to-rent scheme, the ownership of the family home is transferred to a housing association, which then rents it back to the family.

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