Affordable housing schemes
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.
In 2011, the existing affordable housing schemes were discontinued. A new Affordable Housing Bill was published in January 2021, but this legislation has not been finalised and the details of the scheme are not available yet. This document describes how the previous schemes worked, and what happens if you sell your affordable home.
If you bought an affordable home
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.
How the schemes worked
Affordable Housing Scheme
Under the Affordable Housing Scheme the local authority provided land on which new houses were built and sold. You would qualify for the Affordable Housing Scheme if :
- You were in need of housing and your income satisfied the income test, or
- You were registered on a housing waiting list with a local authority, or
- You were a local authority tenant or a tenant purchaser and you wanted to buy a private house and return your present house to the local authority, or
- You were a tenant for more than one year of a home provided by a housing association under the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme and you wanted to buy a private house and return your present house to the housing association.
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. As a guide, the following are approximate limits:
- Single-income household: If your gross income (before tax) in the last income tax year was between €25,000 and €58,000, you might be eligible.
- Two-income household: If your joint income was €75,000 or less, you might be eligible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information about affordable housing, contact your local authority.