Hundreds of people who signed up to shared ownerships schemes could be in for a windfall as Cork County Council is to ask the Government to relax the repayment systems.
The likely measure may come after county councillors unanimously backed a motion from Cllr Seamus McGrath to tackle what he termed the “deeply inequitable scheme”.
Under the scheme introduced some years ago, the council retained an equity share in the property and purchasers payed a rent to the council as well.
On top of the annual rent, the purchaser must buy out the council’s equity share after the end of the scheme which can take from 20 to 25 years.
The scheme had been introduced to assist purchasers who needed government support to purchase a house.
However, according to Cllr McGrath, who is leader of Fianna Fáil on the council, the reality is the scheme has served the Government and local authorities far better than the purchasers.
“I know several people under the scheme who have paid hundreds of euro in rent each month to the council for well over a decade and yet will still owe the council a sizeable amount for its share in the property when the scheme comes to an end,” he said.
“This is despite the fact that the council takes no involvement, whatsoever, in the maintenance of the property. When you compare the scheme to the Affordable Housing Scheme which operated a number of years ago, you can clearly see how unfair it is.”
People purchasing affordable housing had been offered a discount under the scheme and they did not have to pay any rent, nor will they end up owing any lump sum to the council after a certain period of time.
“This is why the shared ownership purchasers must be given some relief,” Cllr McGrath said.
Cllr Claire Cullinane said the shared ownership scheme was clearly inequitable.
Cllr Des O’Grady also agreed and said it was time purchasers were given some recompense.
Mayor of County Cork Cllr John Paul O’Shea agreed and asked officials to write to the Government seeking changes to the scheme to lessen the burden on householders involved.
Cllr McGrath added: “I’m pleased to have gained the support in the council chamber to seek an urgent review of the scheme.
“This is the only fair thing to do and I sincerely hope Minister Simon Coveney will take our views on board.”
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