One of the country's largest councils says it will continue with a deal to lease 159 homes in west Dublin, despite the deal being dubbed "a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money".
Fingal County Council is leasing the homes at the Hansfield SDZ under the Part V Enhanced Leasing Scheme, which sees councils take 25-year leases on homes at up to 95% of market rates.
While the council says it cannot say exactly how much each unit will cost, one local TD says that the deal will cost between €60m and €74m, at the end of which the developer will retake full ownership of the homes with no guarantees on what would happen to people renting the homes.
Some 110 of the homes are being provided under Part V obligations from the developer, with 49 additional homes being made available to the council.
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin West Paul Donnelly said that the costs could reach as high as €384,000 for a one-bedroom home, far in excess of the homes the council is offering for sale at Dun Emer in Lusk.
“The council are preparing to sign a contract with a private developer for 159 units at a potential cost of over €384k for a 25-year lease on a one-bed unit and a potential cost of €438,000 on a two-bed unit," said Mr Donnelly.
“It must be noted that Fingal County Council only recently announced its own affordable housing scheme, with a one-bed unit costed at €166k. It seems that Fingal are willing to sign this deal that will see a leased unit costing two and a half times the affordable housing unit.
“I find it astonishing that the council can support the spending of upwards of €74m for this deal, yet we have the Church Fields development that was announced in 2017 and as of yet we have only a handful of houses actually delivered.
“It is essential that there is an immediate stop put to any attempt to sign this deal, it is a bad deal for taxpayers and it’s a bad deal for tenants."
Part V of the Planning and Development Act says that the overall Government policy "will be better achieved by the acquisition of houses, rather than leasing", something a Fingal spokesperson said the council agrees with, but councils are seeing growing housing lists, which need to be met.
"The council considered that a leasing option was practicable in this case as the council was achieving an additional 49 dwellings which will provide much-needed homes for an additional 49 families in an area of the county with very high demand for social housing," said the spokesperson. "There are currently 3,283 households in need of social housing in the Dublin 15 area.
"The actual amount of rent paid is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed in order to protect the council’s negotiating position in current and future proposals.”
The Dáil last week debated a Social Democrats bill, brought by its housing spokesperson Cian O'Callaghan, which would end the practice of leasing under Part V.
Mr O'Callaghan said that homes are “often leased to the State, for social housing, at exorbitant rents. The State pays the mortgage in these deals, while the cuckoo funds keep the homes".
Junior housing minister Peter Burke told the Dáil that Part V leasing, which was used for only 16 homes in 2020, "allows for circumstances where a local authority does not have the capital available to purchase the housing units".