Dáil Éireann - Volume 489 - 21 April, 1998

Written Answers. - Rental Subsidy Scheme.

[1333] 518. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if rental subsidy scheme tenants are entitled to become tenant purchasers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9009/98]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Molloy): The rental subsidy scheme does not provide for the purchase of houses by the tenants. This issue was carefully considered and it was found that a tenant purchase scheme for rental subsidy housing would not be feasible as the sale of individual houses would undermine the capacity and resources of voluntary housing bodies to manage and maintain their estates and continue to provide further housing projects to meet pressing needs.

Residents of rental subsidy houses of more than one year's duration who wish to become owner-occupiers may, however, on surrendering their house to the approved body, qualify for the following benefits available to local authority tenants surrendering their houses to the authority: special mortgage allowance of £4,500 over five years to assist with mortgage repayments; the shared ownership system without having to satisfy the income elegibility criteria; improvement works-in-lieu; affordable housing sites; and exemption from the income limit for local authority housing loans.

Full details of these options are available from local authorities who are responsible for administering the rental subsidy scheme in their areas.

519. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the conditions which apply to rent schemes under the rental subsidy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9010/98]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Molloy): Under the terms of the rental subsidy scheme, the rent payable to an approved housing body by the tenant of a house qualifying for subsidy, is calculated annually by reference to income in the tax year ending on 5 April preceding the start of the subsidy year. The rent payable is £5 per week for the first £80 (or less) of household income per week, plus £0.18 per week for each additional £1 of income over £80, with an abatement of £1 per week for each dependent child residing in the house (subject to the rent not being less than £5 per week), plus £0.18 per week for each £1 of subsidiary income in excess of £80 per week subject to the rent per subsidiary income not exceeding £20 per week.

‘Household income’ for the purposes of the scheme is the total income of the tenant and his/her spouse, if any, or of joint tenants, as the case may be. ‘Subsidiary income’ is the income of each other person resident in the house whose income is not included in the definition of ‘household [1334] income’ above and the cap on rent payable in respect of such income applies per subsidiary income earner. A dependent child for the purposes of rent assessment means a person aged 18 years or younger or a person aged under 21 years who is attending a full-time course of education and is not in receipt of an income.

Where the calculation of rent by reference to income in the preceding tax year would result in hardship arising from a fall in income due to disemployment, disability, etc. there is provision for reducing the rent payable for the purposes of the subsidy. Where the tenant produces satisfactory evidence to the approved body of a fall in income and of the likelihood of such fall being sustained for at least four weeks, the weekly rent may be adjusted to the level appropriate to the reduced rate of income for the full duration of the reduction in income. A tenant who is granted such a rent reduction, is required to inform the approved body of any subsequent increase in income during the subsidy year in order to avoid any build up of rent underpayments which would have to be made up subsequently. Where a subsequent increase in income occurs, the rent is adjusted pro rata, subject to the revised rent not exceeding that which would be payable by reference to income in the preceding tax year.