Cllr Sean Smith (FF).

Call to broaden Tenant Purchase Scheme criteria

The executive of Cavan County Council and elected members are united in their view that the terms and conditions of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme 2016 need to be “broadened” to make easier for renters, especially those in rural areas, to buy their own home.

The current scheme has been among the most unsuccessful ever in terms of uptake. Tenants must meet strict criteria, including having a minimum income of €50,000 per annum, and be in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The minimum income level was introduced, the government stated subsequently, in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.

For the second month in a row, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Smith raised the subject at a meeting of Cavan County Council.

Once again he claimed that there are many people, of retirement age, who have lived in their council rented property all their lives and have the money to purchase it, but find themselves excluded from doing so due to the conditions of the scheme.

Some of the properties are in areas where the Council would otherwise find difficulty filling the houses.

In bringing the matter to the council executive’s attention again, Cllr Smith asked that they formulate a “submission” calling for the Department to review the programme.

As happened last month, Cllr John Paul Feeley, seconded his colleague’s proposal.

Fine Gael’s Peter McVitty also voiced his support for the proposal, as did Cllr Madeleine Argue.

Director of Services Eoin Doyle acknowledged that the subject had appeared on the agenda before.

He informed the meeting that there was a prevailing opinion that the terms of the TPS need broadening.

This was the crux of the submission from the Council.

He confirmed that the local authority had made a submission on the matter.

Mr Doyle took on board however the comments from the meeting, and said that the submission could be reviewed if necessary to include those.

Minister Peter Burke previously informed the Dáil that a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the TPS scheme has been prepared.

The review is expected to be finalised within the next three months.

But Minister Burke stated he is “not proposing” to change the terms to preclude any tenants or joint tenants from taking part in the scheme.

“No one wants to put people into an unsustainable position where they cannot service their repayments,” he said.

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