Donegal Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher TD has branded the tenant purchase scheme “a total failure and a complete flop”.
Introduced in January 2016, the scheme allows local authority tenants to purchase their existing local authority home.
In the almost two years since the scheme’s establishment, just eleven houses nationwide have been sold under the scheme – with none at all being sold in Donegal.
Gallagher says that the scheme has “failed to meet the needs of the tenants and is a rip-off, truth be told.”
He says: “This Government is great at announcing schemes, but the reality is that many of them fail to meet their targets and this one is particularly difficult for ordinary people to access. Despite the fact that there are over 70,000 homeowners in mortgage arrears, only a few hundred have been able to avail of the Mortgage to Rent scheme.
“The Tenant Purchase Scheme has been an even bigger disaster with only 11 homes sold since January last year. No house was sold in all of Co. Donegal, while nationwide only 11 houses have been transferred into the tenant’s ownership.”
He is encouraging the Government to revise the scheme and to update the eligibility criteria.
“The Government needs to revamp the current scheme to make it more attractive to tenants and to local authorities. If the scheme was improved, it would generate income for councils as well as securing home ownership for local authority tenants.
“The current scheme is deeply flawed because even if a family has enough money to buy their home, they are automatically excluded from applying if the majority of their income comes from social welfare payments.
“Many pensioners are now living into their 80s and 90s, however people in their 60s are precluded from the scheme if the State pension or payments made under participation schemes, such as the Rural Social Scheme makes up the bulk of their income.
“The terms of previous Tenant Purchase Schemes were not as restrictive, and in most cases people who bought their homes from the local authority took great pride in doing so and looked after them well on purchase.
“I am calling on the Government to review the current terms of the scheme and to make it workable, as I believe that home ownership is one of great stabilising characteristics of a decent society,” concluded Pat the Cope.