03/09/2021 Briefing

The Government’s Housing for All plan (the Plan) has four pathways to achieving housing for all:

  • supporting home ownership and increasing affordability;
  • eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery and supporting social inclusion;
  • increasing new housing supply; and
  • addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock.

This briefing is a snap-shot of the legal measures announced in the Plan, particularly those that are of interest to real estate developers, investors and funders. Some of the measures have already been announced and implementing legislation has been enacted.  Further detail on the new measures announced yesterday will be required before stakeholders can assess the impact of the Plan on their development, investment and funding strategies.

The Plan proposes measures across a range of areas, including:

 

Long-Term Leasing of Social Housing to Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies

  • To be phased out by the end of 2025 in favour of models which ensure long-term ownership of social housing.

 

Affordable Housing

  • A new Local Authority-led Affordable Purchase Scheme.
  • A new Affordable Purchase Shared-Equity First Home Scheme (the framework for which is set out in the Affordable Housing Act 2021) aimed at first-time buyers needing support to purchase new-build homes in private developments, to be delivered via a partnership between the State and participating banks.

 

Private Rented Sector

  • Further regulation of the short-term letting sector.
  • Rent increases in Rent Pressure Zones to be limited to increases in the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) until the end of 2024, as set out in the Residential Tenancies (No.2) Act 2021.
  • The development of ‘Cost Rental’ schemes (the framework for which is set out in the Affordable Housing Act 2021) where rents charged only cover the cost of developing, financing, managing and maintaining the homes, with the Plan stating that the target will be to achieve rents at least 25% below what they would be on the private market.
  • Introduction of a minimum BER rating requirement for private rental properties “where feasible”.

 

Planning

  • Winding down of the Strategic Housing Development process and its replacement with a new streamlined planning process for Large-Scale Residential Developments (see previous Government announcement here).
  • A commitment to overhaul and simplify planning legislation.
  • New powers to ensure sharing of the increase in land values resulting from zoning decisions, to apply initially when land is newly zoned for residential development.
  • Planning exemptions for ‘above shop’ conversions and streamlining the Protected Structures system

 

Vacancy

  • A new tax to activate vacant property for residential purposes (vacant property tax) that is proposed to apply from 2023.
  • Local Authorities to be supported by the Housing Finance Agency to purchase and resell up to 2,500 vacant properties in their areas, by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) where necessary.
  • Legislation to enable Local Authorities to remove the refund of commercial rates for vacant properties.

 

Land Development Agency

  • More State land to be provided to the LDA and funding to LDA to be increased to enable it deliver social, affordable and ‘Cost Rental’ housing on public lands.
  • LDA to have key role in the activation of dormant planning permissions.

 

Construction and Sustainable Housing

  • Establishing registers of competent builders by placing the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing and examining the case for an independent building regulator.
  • Commission on Housing to be established later in 2021 to examine and advise the Government on tenure, building standards, sustainability, and quality in the provision of housing.
  • 36,500 Local Authority homes to be retrofitted to a B2/cost optimal Building Energy Rating (BER) by 2030.
  • Referendum on housing to be held.

 

Where to Next?

This note highlights a selection of the measures announced yesterday.  Important detail will be available over the coming months as legislation is introduced to give effect to the broad aims of the Plan.  Further briefings will follow as that detail emerges.