Griffin’s Rental Renovation Scheme Being Considered
Proposal to Create Additional Housing Units
March 23rd 2016
KERRY Fine Gael TD, Brendan Griffin, has outlined a proposed new scheme, which he has devised to help free up additional housing units.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Griffin outlined his Rental Renovation Scheme, which would see property owners grant aided to bring uninhabitable properties up to habitable standard on condition that the property would then be available to local authorities free of rent for a period equivalent to the value of the grant. The tenant would remain in situ for an agreed period thereafter when the owner would also start receiving rent.
Deputy Griffin says that there are thousands of units all over rural and urban Ireland that would fit this category, including old shop units in village and town centres that could be converted to residential use.
He says that It would benefit the tenant, who would have secure, affordable accommodation, it would benefit the owner, given that what was a rotting house would be made habitable and, in a few years’ time, would start generating rent, it would benefit the localities because what was a derelict house would look well and have people living there, it would benefit builders by creating employment and it would benefit the State and local authorities, which would house people on their housing lists.
In a subsequent response to a Written Dáil Question on the proposed scheme, Deputy Griffin was told that the proposal is currently under consideration.
Deputy Griffin said that he is open to changes to the proposed scheme if needed but insisted that there is room for such a scheme as a cog in a very large wheel of measures to address the housing shortage. Deputy Griffin also reiterated his long held view that the rate of VAT for residential construction activity must be reduced to 9%.
Further info and Dáil transcript below:
Question No. 529
Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on this Deputy’s proposal entitled the Rental Renovation Scheme which was previously sent to him and which aims to incentivise the renovation of derelict properties to make them available for rental; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 22nd March, 2016.
Ref No: 5033/16
Minister of State for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Paudie Coffey)
This proposal is currently under consideration by my Department and a full response will be provided shortly. In the meantime, tax relief is available for homeowners and landlords under the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) which provides an income tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure on repair, renovation, or improvement works. The HRI is intended as a support for homeowners or landlords who engage only tax compliant contractors to carry out qualifying work. Further information is available at www.revenue.ie
March 22nd 2016 Dáil Transcript of Statements on Housing
Deputy Brendan Griffin: Ar an gcéad dul síos, déanaim comhghairdeas leatsa, a Cheann Comhairle, ar do phost nua. Tá súil agam go mbeidh téarma an-mhaith agat. Tá an-áthas orm a bheith anseo arís do mo dhara théarma agus táim fíorbhuíoch le muintir Chiarraí as ucht an seans a thabhairt dom leanúint ar aghaidh le mo chuid oibre.
This is a positive discussion today as we hear from all sides of the House on how we can best tackle this issue. It is important that we would listen to each other, which is something that certainly does not happen enough in this House. Some positive suggestions were made.
I also remind Deputies that while it is all well and good to come here and throw stones at the Government for not doing enough, everybody here has an obligation, given that they have the opportunity to try to govern, have an input and do what they can for their constituents. It is not good enough for people to come to the House, criticise repeatedly and then run away and abdicate responsibility at the first opportunity to govern. I do not understand the mindset. It is letting down one’s constituents. We all have a responsibility to do what we can here, to do our best, and to contribute to the Government. Those who choose not to do it should bear in mind, next time they are criticising, that they are choosing not to participate in government.
A huge number of measures must be taken to address the problem but I am going to talk about just two in the three minutes available to me. An extension of the 9% VAT rate to residential construction activity would help, as a cog in what must be a very large wheel. In my constituency, Kerry, I have seen how much the 9% VAT rate has helped as a stimulus to labour-intensive jobs, particularly in the tourist industry. There is a major opportunity for us to apply it to construction as a stimulus to increase supply and reduce the cost of housing. It would also create much employment. It must be examined. I have been calling for it over several years, and the Department of Finance responds that it could lead to tax avoidance. However, given that it is very difficult to avoid taxation, it is not a good enough answer. There is leeway to do it, and it must be considered.
Last November, I proposed a rental renovation scheme in writing to the Department. It is similar to Deputy Fergus O’Dowd’s suggestion earlier today. I will give an example. Say John’s parents passed away several years ago and the house they left him is in a state of disrepair and needs an investment of €15,000 to €20,000 to bring it up to a habitable standard. Because John cannot afford to do it, and cannot get a bank loan, a housing unit is sitting idle and rotting. A family nearby is threatened with homelessness because they cannot afford their rent and the council has identified that there is a housing need in the area. John goes to the council, which confirms this, and he gets a contractor to estimate the cost of bringing the house up to a habitable standard. The council would provide grant aid to do so, on the basis that John will make the house available to the council for a certain duration in lieu of rent, after which he would receive rent for it. There are thousands of units all over rural and urban Ireland that would fit this category, including old shop units in town centres that could be converted to residential use. It would benefit the tenant, who would have secure, affordable accommodation. It would benefit the owner, given that what was a rotting house would be made habitable and, in a few years’ time, would start generating rent. It would benefit the localities because what was a derelict house would look well. It would benefit builders by creating employment. It would benefit the State and local authorities, which would house people on their housing lists. The Department must examine this proposal. Perhaps it is not perfect and needs to be tweaked. There is room for such a scheme as a cog in a very large wheel of measures.
For Further information contact Brendan on 087-6528841