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Improving mortgage to rent scheme must be prioritised – Funchion

28 April, 2016 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion has called for any future government to prioritise the expansion and stream lining of the mortgage to rent process in order to avoid more people with severe mortgage arrears becoming homeless. She made her comments following a discussion with Housing Agency Chair Conor Skehan who thanked her for highlighting the need to improve the take up of Mortgage to Rent.

Deputy Funchion said;

“At present, we have 62,000 mortgages in arrears for 90 days or more and 16,800 restructured mortgages which are also in arrears. The huge number of unaffordable mortgages poses a major challenge to any future government. Families can no longer simply struggle to keep their heads above water they need long term solutions which will keep them in their home. We cannot allow private mortgage holders to become a new wave of homeless.

“At the Oireachtas Housing Committee today, we received a briefing from Conor Skehan of the Housing Agency. He outlined quite clearly that the threat of large numbers of mortgage holders losing their home in the coming months is a real and substantial and require government action in order to prevent this.

“We believe that one of the best ways to address this problem is through the Mortgage to rent scheme. Up until now the scheme has been far too narrow in scope and required far too much from participants to process any meaningful number of applicants. To date, only 379 people have succeeded in availing of the scheme.

“The Mortgage to Rent Scheme allows homeowners who would otherwise qualify for social housing to relinquish control of their home to a housing body or local authority in order that they may stay in the home and become tenants of that body. This protects them from loss of their home and relieves them of their insurmountable debt.

“Applicants have to live in home valued no more than €350,000 for a house and €300,000 for an apartment or townhouse in the areas of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Louth, Cork and Galway and €250,000 for a house and €190,000 for an apartment or townhouse in the rest of the country. They must also engage in the lengthy MARP process to determine if the mortgage is not sustainable.

“This model needs to be expanded and streamlined in order to provide access to more people who are at risk of homelessness. This could be done by increasing house values or income thresholds and reducing the length of time for the MARP process to conclude.

“If this is not done, then the cost to the state will be great due even greater pressure on emergency accommodation to provide spaces. The human cost will also be unbearable as more and more families become homeless in the coming months and year. The state cannot wait and hope that unsustainable debts will become sustainable on their own, action is needed now.” 

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