Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

15.47 8 Sep 2021


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Proof of past rent payments should be taken into account by banks when someone is applying for a mortgage, the Housing Minister says.

Darragh O'Brien also said he believes 'above shop' spaces should be used for housing wherever possible.

He was speaking following the launch of the Government's long-promised 'Housing for All' strategy last week.

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Under the plan, ministers have pledged that an average of 33,000 new homes will be built each year over the next decade.

The plan's provisions include planning exemptions for ‘above shop’ conversions.

Minister O'Brien told The Pat Kenny Show that is a subject that has been looked at for years but never tackled properly.

Proof of rent payments 'should be taken into account' for mortgage applicants - O'Brien

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He said: “I know there are families who’d love to live above a shop in Ranelagh or Swords or wherever.

“A lot of the issue with above shop living is it’s just so expensive for people to convert them. I want as many of those in use [as possible].”

The minister said the Government will also bring in a vacant property tax, although exemptions are likely to include genuine holiday homes or the homes of people in long-term care.

Minister O'Brien said there'll be “quite a significant” increase in accommodation and new builds from next year.

That'll require more builders and construction workers - something the minister says is accounted for in the plan.

He said: “We can scale up. It will be gradual, but we’re not going to be slow about doing it.

"We need the human resources to build the homes.”

Affordable housing

One concern around affordable housing is it's very difficult for people to save up for a deposit when they're paying high rents.

Minister O'Brien said "historical proof" of ability to pay should be taken into account by lenders when it comes to mortgages.

He suggested: "Some banks say they do... but the anecdotal evidence is in many cases they don’t.”

He noted the Central Bank is currently reviewing Ireland's lending rules.

Meanwhile, Minister O'Brien said there'll also be "real measures" put in place to allow people buy their first home at an affordable rate.

He said: “At local authority [level] directly through our affordable housing scheme… the State will take a stake in that. That’ll mean the homeowner can probably get a home at an average of around €250,000. The first of those will be available in Cork towards the end of the year.

“[Another measure] is the home first shared equity scheme, which is going to work really, really well. The State is bridging the affordability gap.”

He suggested that renters currently paying €2,000 a month in rent could be paying €1,000 of mortgage repayments instead under some of the affordability measures.

Main image: Darragh O'Brien. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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