Concerns have been raised about the amount of time it is taking for local authorities to purchase homes for sale under the tenant in situ scheme.
During an Oireachtas housing committee meeting, representative for the County and City Management Association (CCMA) Coilín O’Reilly said it can take four months on average from start to finish to acquire a property under the scheme.
The tenant-in-situ scheme encourages local authorities to buy properties that have been put up for sale by the landlord where there is an existing tenant in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
Since April 2022, 367 properties have had their sale agreed while 634 are in the pipeline to be purchased under the scheme which has a target of 1,500 this year.
Mr O’Reilly also said landlords or tenants who enquire about the scheme are usually responded to within one to two weeks.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said he has spoken to landlords who wish to sell to their tenants under the scheme. However, they are waiting for months until they are contacted.
“Landlords who have that long-term relationship with their tenants, who are keen to sell and who sometimes sell at a discount can be left four or five months before the council even indicates if they’re considering the purchase,” he said.
Mr Ó Broin said he has encountered two separate families who have since ended up in emergency accommodation because “the local authority took such a long time to even initiate the process".
Mr O’Reilly said local authorities must go through the correct “due diligence” in the acquisition of a property which includes legal checks, inspections, evaluation, negotiation and finally legal contracts.
“Could it be done quicker? Maybe a little, but we’re not going to take months off that,” he said.
When the scheme began in April, properties were coming in at a “trickle” which subsequently increased “a little bit” towards the end of the summer and continues to increase, he said.
Noting that the eviction ban is due to lift in 10 days, Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said if his family was to be evicted he “wouldn’t be leaving”.
Although recognising the four-month timeframe as a “reasonable” one, Mr Gould questioned how families with notices of termination will be served by the scheme.
“Maybe if there had been a ban on evictions until next January, that would have given everyone the time to deliver the tenant-in-situ scheme but I don’t think it’s going to be delivered in 10 days,” he said.