Lifting of ban on pensioners buying out council homes is welcomed

A BAN on pensioners buying out their council homes is about to be lifted by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, a Meath county councillor has been told.

Fianna Fail Cllr Paul McCabe had raised the issue at a Meath County Council meeting last year when he said that pensioners should have the option if buying their homes under the Tenant Purchase Scheme (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 where they could reasonably demonstrate that they have the means and resources to do so.

He understood there was a review going on in the Government department and his motion was a way of giving support to people who wanted a chance to buy their homes when they reached 66 years of age.

The Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien wrote to Cllr McCabe saying the issue had been raised many times by members of the Fianna Fail party in relation to barriers to pensioners wanting to access the scheme. Just before Christmas the Cabinet had approved his plan to enable pensioners to access the purchase scheme, he said.

The change will come in from 1st February this year.

He said that the Programme for Government had committed to maintaining the right of tenants to purchase their own homes. “Our party has placed home ownership at the heart of Housing for All, our long-term housing policy to 2030.

The change to the Tenant Purchase Schme will give effect to this commitment and form part of a series of reforms of the social housing system that are being progressed under the Government’s Housing for All plan”.

Mr O’Brien said the principal changes would be to reduce the level of income tenants will require to be eligible. This will reduce from €15,000 to €12,500. It will be reduced in the short-term by regulations that will take effect by 1st February this year and will ensure pensioners can now qualify to purchase their homes under the scheme.

The changes will only apply to pensions – all other social welfare payments will only be deemed a second source of income under the schemeand, as suchg, would not be reckonable for income.

“I am also proposing in the short-term to extend the minimum period tenants will be required to be in receipt of social housing support before being eligible to purchase a local authority house. This will increase from one to 10 years.”