The affordable housing schemes aimed to help lower-income households to buy their own homes. They offered eligible first-time purchasers the chance to buy newly constructed homes and apartments at prices significantly less than their market value.
It was announced in June 2011 that all affordable housing schemes were being stood down.
If you sell your house within 20 years, you will have to pay the local authority a percentage of the proceeds of the sale - known as 'clawback'. This percentage is expressed as the percentage difference between the sale price and the market value of the house. This amount will be reduced by 10% each year after you have owned your home for 10 years. So, if you sell your home after 20 years, you will not have to pay any clawback to the local authority.
The market value at the time of selling your affordable home is used to calculate the amount of clawback due to the local authority. If the gap between the original sale price and market value has narrowed, the amount due to the local authority will also reduce. If the proceeds of the sale of your affordable home are below the initial price actually paid, you will not be liable to pay the local authority a percentage of the proceeds of the sale.
Find out more about living in an affordable home.
Mortgages for affordable homes
Mortgages were available from local authorities and some banks also provided mortgages for affordable homes. The loan could be up to 97% of the price of the house, subject to repayments being no more than 35% of the household's net income after tax and social insurance (PRSI). Some private lenders had affordable housing mortgages. Applicants for private sector affordable mortgages had to be pre-approved by their local authorities for a suitable property.
Stamp duty of up to €100 applied to the purchase of affordable homes since 1 April 2011.
Mortgage Subsidy Scheme
If you got a mortgage for your affordable home from the local authority and your gross household income was less than €28,000, you would be entitled to a subsidy of between €1,050 and €2,550 per year, paid directly to the local authority.
A household that did not qualify for this subsidy could instead qualify for the Mortgage Allowance Scheme.
The local authority used 3 different ways to provide affordable housing:
You could be eligible for housing provided under all of the above. When you applied for affordable housing your local authority would assess you for the different options.
Affordable Housing Scheme
Under the Affordable Housing Scheme the local authority provided land on which new houses were built and sold. If there were more eligible applicants than houses, the local authority would determine the order of priority, taking account of household circumstances, etc.
You would qualify for the Affordable Housing Scheme if :
The income test only applied to people mentioned in the first bullet point; if you were covered by the second, third or fourth bullet points, you were exempt from the income test. However, all applicants had to have enough income to meet their mortgage repayments after paying other bills.
Some local authorities had lower or higher income limits than others. This is because the cost of housing is more expensive in some areas than others. As a guide, the following are approximate limits:
Part V affordable housing
Part V of the Development Acts 2000-2002 allows a local authority to require developers to set aside up to 20% of new developments of 5 or more houses for social or affordable housing. The local authority decides how much (if any) of the 20% will be social, voluntary or affordable housing - though as the affordable housing schemes have been stood down, no more housing is now being designated as affordable.
There were no rules about where affordable houses should be located in new developments. It was for the local authority to decide which homes should be designated as affordable housing, as appropriate. For example the affordable houses could have been peppered through the development/estate or grouped in pairs, in areas, etc. The proximity of these homes all depended on what the local authority approved as most appropriate for the area and most appropriate for the residents of these homes.
You were eligible to buy an affordable house provided under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2002 if 35% of your income was not sufficient to enable you to buy a house.
Affordable Housing Initiative
The Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) was introduced under the Sustaining Progress agreement. Under this initiative the Office of Public Works provided land on which new houses were built and sold.The AHI aimed to meet the needs of people who would formerly have been able to buy a house, but found themselves priced out of the market.
You were eligible to buy an affordable house provided under the Affordable Housing Initiative if 35% of your income was not sufficient to enable you to buy a house.
Applications for affordable homes were handled by local authorities.
You had to supply the following information with your application:
You could also be asked for a letter from your employer confirming that you were a permanent employee. If you were self-employed, you could be asked to provide audited accounts for the previous 3 years.
If you were living in rented accommodation, you could be asked to produce a statement of your weekly rent signed by the landlord or to submit a copy of your rent book with your application.
For more information about affordable housing, contact the Housing Agency, which incorporates the Affordable Homes Partnership.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.