To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding on the review of shared ownership scheme with particular reference to the 4.5% rental increase which had previously been suspended and which is causing hardship for many householders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Martin Heydon.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 25th September, 2014.
Ref No: 36291/14
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr. A. Kelly)
In 2013, I asked the Housing Agency to conduct a standalone review of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures. While I have received an initial draft of the review from the Agency, a number of issues have been identified that need further detailed financial analysis in order to fully assess the impact on local authority finances of possible mitigating measures. This data collection exercise has been initiated and will inform future actions.
Pending full conclusion of this review, my Department issued a circular letter to local authorities setting out some of the options and interim actions that might be explored to alleviate the difficulties of those in shared ownership distress such as allowing use of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process and room rental for Shared Ownership mortgage holders. It is accepted that these proposals are not a complete solution to the issues that arise for such mortgage holders but are intended as an interim measure pending the outcome of the review.
I fully recognise that shared ownership home owners, amongst others, have been affected by issues such as unemployment and possible negative equity. In such cases, borrowers should actively engage with their lenders, whether a commercial financial institution or a local authority, to seek to avail of one of the options available to provide sustainable solutions to distressed mortgages.