Revamped mortgage-to-rent welcome but more detail required for an effective scheme
8 February 2017
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) said today’s announcement by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney TD that changes are to be made to the mortgage-to-rent scheme following a review by his department is encouraging.
However, the legal rights group questioned to what extent the changes that have been flagged will achieve their purpose.
“The mortgage-to-rent scheme has to date largely failed to deliver results and any review that may help to significantly boost the numbers is helpful,” said FLAC Senior Policy Analyst Paul Joyce. However he suggested that adjusting property price thresholds and removing roadblocks around repairing properties may not deliver any significant increase in numbers when more fundamental problems exist with the current scheme. These include the ambiguous attitude of some local authorities, lender indifference, a lack of housing association coverage across the country and a lack of state investment in the scheme.
In four years 2013-2016, some 217 households have been accommodated under the existing mortgage-to-rent scheme, with 3575 applications submitted.
“The Minister states that he wants to give Mortgage-to-Rent a ‘shot in the arm’ by testing alternative models that can deliver volume. It would be very helpful to have more detail of what he has in mind here,” Mr Joyce went on. “It is clear that certain financial institutions have signalled their interest in a new model, but what of those who have not?” he asked.
FLAC also noted that Mortgage-to-Rent was only one limited method of preventing the potential wave of homelessness from repossession of family homes. “Although a buy-back option in the future may exist, the reality is that most beneficiaries of the scheme will remain tenants,” said Mr Joyce. “Meanwhile, mortgage write-down, which is a key mechanism under the personal insolvency legislation that potentially allows for the write-down of the debt on the family home to its current market value, allowing the borrower to remain the owner, is still mostly unused.”
Address: FLAC, 13 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1
- FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. As an NGO, FLAC relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.
- FLAC offers basic legal information through its telephone information line (1890 350 250). Free legal advice is available through a network of 80 volunteer evening advice centres – more at www.flac.ie/help/. It also campaigns on a range of issues including consumer credit, personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid. FLAC has issued numerous analyses and policy statements calling for a fairer mortgage arrears resolution process.
- The scheme is online at http://rebuildingireland.ie/install/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Review-of-the-Mortgage-to-Rent-Scheme-February-2017.pdf