Concern has been expressed over the low uptake of local authorities purchasing tenant-in-situ homes in Dublin, despite government funding to buy almost 800 properties.
Under the scheme launched in April last year, funding has been provided for local authorities to purchase homes where the landlord wants to sell up and a termination order has been served.
Dublin City Council received the largest allocation to buy 450 tenant-in-situ homes, however, to date it has only purchased 29, according to figures revealed to Independent.ie.
“From January 2022 to date, Dublin City Council purchased 29 properties under the Tenant In Situ Scheme,” a spokesman for the local authority said.
“We are currently engaging with landlords and tenants on a further 222 proposed acquisitions.
“Similar to the purchase of any property, undertaking due diligence can be a lengthy process and, at a given time, the number of completed acquisitions represents only a fraction of purchases in progress,” he added.
While Fingal County Council has funding for 125 homes, it has bought none to date. However, a spokesperson said it is working on more than 50 “potential” purchases.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has funding for 60 homes and has purchased three. South Dublin County Council received funding for 150 tenant-in-situ homes, but did not give details on how many purchases it has made.
The tenant-in-situ scheme allows local authorities to purchase homes where a tenant, in receipt of Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), has been issued with a notice of termination.
Robert Burns, Director of Housing for Fingal County Council, said the local authority is working on more than 50 “potential” tenant-in-situ purchases.
Mr Burns said Fingal County Council has 12 properties at the sale agreed stage, which it hopes to close in the coming weeks. There are another 10 tenant-in-situ homes at the negotiation stage, and 31 applications are being considered.
“Sale agreed is a very high level of reassurance that they will remain in their tenancies,” said Mr Burns at Monday’s council meeting.
“We would hope to have three or four of those progressed and sale closed in the coming weeks.”
Mr Burns added that “there are steps that need to be gone through”, in deciding what homes are suitable for social housing acquisition.
Measures include whether a notice to quit is in place, the housing needs, condition of the property and an evaluation of the property.
“Our best chance of trying to navigate through this is to have as much supply as possible of new homes,” he said.
“We would hope to have 500-600 new homes coming on stream this year which gives us options for people on our housing list, but also people who are in tenant-in-situ situations.”
Fingal County Council has engaged with three Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) to acquire the properties on behalf of the council.
“We are advising tenants to contact us at the earliest opportunity if they are having difficulty with their tenancy because there may be other options other than a tenant-in-situ,” said Mr Burns.
“We also have to accept that there are situations where the landlord may not wish to sell to the council.”
However, Independent councillor Tony Murphy said he was “not 100pc satisfied” with the number of properties accepted onto the scheme to date in the Fingal area.
“I have had a number of small landlords present opportunity to me… and of all of them, every one of them was rejected,” said Mr Murphy.
He added that more information is needed on the criteria for landlords to apply for the scheme. Local authorities have until March 31 to decide how the funding will be spent for 2023.
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