No surprises but here is the draft property programme for government, as endorsed by Fine Gael and Labour:
Housing and Distressed Mortgages
A policy of putting the interests of big developers and the banks ahead of people looking
to purchase a home was a direct cause of Ireland’s disastrous property boom and bust.
This Government is committed to helping homeowners in distress to weather the
recession, and to ensuring that Ireland has a sustainable housing policy.
Both parties believe that more protection is needed for homeowners with distressed
mortgages. The recommendations of the Cooney report are inadequate to address the
scale of the current crisis. A more radical approach is needed to protect families in fear
of losing their home. This Government will examine a number of such proposals,
??Increasing mortgage interest relief to 30% for First Time Buyers in 2004-08 (from
the current sliding scale of 20% to 25% depending on the year the mortgage was
taken out), financed in part by bringing forward the abolition of relief for new
buyers from June 2011.
??Directing any mortgage provider in receipt of State support to present
Government with a plan of how intends to cut its costs, over and above existing
plans, in a fair manner by a sufficient amount to forego a 25 basis point increase
on their variable rate mortgage.
??Introducing a two year moratorium on repossessions of modest family homes
where a family makes an honest effort to pay their mortgage.
??Fast-tracking personal bankruptcy reform needed to bring us into line with best
international standards, such as introducing a flexible discharge period for “honest
bankrupts”, defined as one that has materially complied with the Tax, NAMA and
Companies Acts among others.
??Converting the Money Advice and Budgeting Service into a strengthened
Personal Debt Management Agency with strong legal powers. The agency will
support families who make an honest effort to deal with their debts, including
non-mortgage debt, providing protection from their creditors where appropriate,
so that they have time to sort out their affairs. In order to do so, the Personal Debt
Management Agency will have quasi-judicial status.
??Making greater use of Mortgage Interest Supplement to support families who
cannot meet their mortgage payments, which is a better and cheaper option than
paying rent supplement after a family loses their home.
We will mandate the Minster for the Environment, in conjunction with Local Authorities,
to bring forward a coherent plan to resolve the problems associated with ghost estates.
This plan will be developed in cooperation with NAMA.
We will introduce a staged purchase scheme to increase the stock of social housing, while
achieving the best possible value for public investment. Under the terms of this scheme,
leased dwellings will revert to the ownership of local authorities and housing associations
at the end of the leasehold period.
We will enable larger housing associations and local authorities to access private sector
funding for social housing by issuing ‘social housing bonds’, secured on the value of
their existing housing stock when market conditions allow.
We will amend the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (1992) to require all local
authorities and housing associations to register with the Department of the Environment
if they wish to access Government subsidies or other supports for social housing
We are committed to urban regeneration to revitalise communities in areas such as
Limerick to give families a better quality of life.
We are committed to ending long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough.
To address the issue of existing homelessness we will review and update the existing
Homeless Strategy, including a specific focus on youth homelessness, and take into
account the current demands on existing housing and health services with a view to
assessing how to best provide additional services.
In line with our Comprehensive Spending Review, we will alleviate the problem of long
term homelessness by introducing a ‘housing first’ approach to accommodating homeless people. In this way we will be able to offer homeless people suitable, long term housing in the first instance and radically reduce the use of hostel accommodation and the
associated costs for the Exchequer.
We believe that prevention is better than cure and we will aggressively target the root
causes of homelessness. By having a dedicated body to coordinate policy across
Government we will target initiatives in cross cutting areas which will aim to prevent as
much as possible problems like homelessness.
We will ensure that the Central Bank and Financial Regulator supervise credit
institutions’ mortgage lending practices comprehensively and intensively. Where credit
institutions fail to adequately control mortgage lending risks, the Central Bank will
impose loan-to-value ceilings on mortgages, caps on loan-to-income multiples, limits on
the term of new mortgages, and more rigorous procedures for verifying borrowers’
We will improve the quality of information available on the Irish housing market by
requiring that the selling price of all dwellings is recorded in a publicly available,
national housing price database.
We will legislate for tougher and clearer rules relating to fire safety in apartment
buildings and will introduce a new fire safety inspection and certification regime.
We will establish a tenancy deposit protection scheme to put an end to disputes regarding the return of deposits.