Sunday 21 April 2019

Clarity needed on home loans

Minister Eoghan Murphy TD pictured with Fingal’s Director of Planning, Ann Marie Farrelly and Council chief executive, Paul Reid
Minister Eoghan Murphy TD pictured with Fingal’s Director of Planning, Ann Marie Farrelly and Council chief executive, Paul Reid

Ken Phelan

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme, which offers a Government-backed mortgage for first-time buyers, came under scrutiny during a recent meeting of Fingal County Council, when councillors raised what they called a sense of 'confusion' and 'panic' among the public, surrounding new applications for the scheme.

Claiming there was 'a lot of confusion' amongst those who wished to apply for the loan, Cllr Paul Mulville (SD). said it was his understanding that interviews for the scheme had been cancelled for some applicants.

Cllr Mulville's comments came in light of a report on the 2018 Housing Programme, which was being discussed during a full meeting of the council last week, in County Hall in Swords.

The 'confusion' surrounding the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme, the Social Democrat councillor said, was highlighted by one of the national newspapers recently, and was causing 'a lot of panic and worry' for applicants.

Cllr Mulville said that clarification was needed from the Government on the funding of the scheme and he suggested that the Government 'is refusing to give us money, we need to get it sorted.'

Sinn Féin councillor from Balbriggan, Cllr Malachy Quinn reiterating Cllr Mulville's sentiments, said that people were concerned that their 'last chance' of owning a home was gone, because they were 'earning too much' to go on the Council housing list.

However, Cllr Darragh Butler (FF), speaking of social and affordable housing, said it was 'great to see, and it makes us proud that we're definitely among the premier leagues in the councils, in regards to the provision of social and affordable housing.'

Cllr Quinn also raised the issue of the responsibilities of management companies and the council with regard to the maintenance of housing estates, where clarity was needed in cases where the management company was in charge of an estate and the Council also had properties at that location.

Giving the example of Bremore Pastures in Balbriggan, Cllr Quinn said that, at that particular estate, there had been issues 'for two years' which had not been resolved.

Cllr Quinn said that, with the management company claiming this was the responsibility of the council, the local authority had engaged with them but there was 'still nothing back.'

'I'm kind of lost, and certainly the tenant is lost regarding the issue', he said.

Addressing some of the points raised in the report, Cllr Brian McDonagh (LAB) raised the matter of house price increases, and asked how the council would ensure that the cost of houses for land which the council builds on was as 'low as possible.'

The councillor suggested a model whereby the State retained the land on which housing was built, and asked if the council was looking at such 'innovative models.'

Cllr McDonagh raised the issue of 'large scale' price increases for what seemed to be 'very similar housing in very similar locations', which had seen an increase of 'up to €80,000' in the space of 12 months.

Stating that the concept of affordable housing indicated that the rest of housing stock was 'unaffordable', Cllr McDonagh claimed the structure of the market was 'still broken.'

Fingal Independent