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Minister O’Brien Announces Significant Improvements to ‘Mortgage to Rent’ Scheme

Posted: Jan 24, 2022 / By: Communications Categories:
Minister O’Brien Announces Significant Improvements to ‘Mortgage to Rent’ Scheme

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, today announced a number of significant improvements to the ‘Mortgage to Rent’ (MTR) scheme for people who have borrowed from commercial private lending institutions and who are at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears. The changes will result in more people being able to benefit from the scheme, which has been amended to reflect current housing market conditions and most up-to-date research on those in long term mortgage arrears.

The MTR scheme offers households in acute, unsustainable mortgage arrears situations, with little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances, the chance to surrender a property to a lender and in turn become a social housing tenant whilst staying in their own home and community. As part of the scheme, the home will be brought up to private rental standards.   

 

The key changes, which will apply from 14th February 2022, are:

  • an increase to the positive equity limit, which is being adjusted by region to align it with the range of house prices and market conditions across the regions
  • purchase price thresholds updated to take account of current market conditions
  • additional flexibility in the number of allowable bedrooms in a dwelling – this will apply for borrowers aged 65 and above, and borrowers who have a disability, or where a dependant has a disability.

 

The changes announced today follow a review of the MTR scheme by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. A strengthened MTR scheme was a commitment in both the Programme for Government and in Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030. Housing for All commits to strengthening the scheme to ensure that it is helping those that need it, with delivery of an average of 1,000 solutions every year. In 2021, 678 borrowers availed of the scheme, more than three times the amount of borrowers (196) who availed of the scheme in 2019.

 

Announcing the changes at an event in Dublin held with iCare Housing, one of the non-profit Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) who participate in the MTR scheme, Minister O’Brien said:

“These changes will make life easier for many households in mortgage distress. For someone in mortgage arrears to lose their home is hugely difficult and stressful. Mortgage to Rent provides a solution to a complex problem by giving a person or family the option of remaining in their own home despite acute mortgage difficulties.

“It is the Government’s objective to keep people in their homes where it is sustainable and the Mortgage to Rent scheme supports that objective. Today’s changes position the scheme to provide a solution for 1,000 families per year from 2022, approximately 50% more than the number of completed cases in 2021, and towards a trebling of the number in 2020.

“It’s clear that there is continued demand for the scheme and I will keep the impact of these new changes under review and make future improvements if necessary. Ultimately we want the use of this scheme to be a long-term sustainable solution for the families and individuals for whom it is designed to assist.”

 

Speaking at the announcement, iCare Housing CEO David Hall said:

The Government changes to the Mortgage to Rent scheme are good news for those in mortgage difficulties throughout the country. As an Approved Housing Body helping people with acute and unsustainable mortgage arrears to start afresh, we’re pleased to see scheme changes that will give more people a chance to stop the clock on financial stress, strain and uncertainty about the future and secure their housing situation. I’ve no doubt that these changes will give more families to chance to start again whilst staying in their own homes and communities.”

 

From the MTR scheme’s introduction in 2012 to the end of 2021, 1,682 families have remained in their home due to the scheme. A total of 5,012 individuals (2,738 adults and 2,274 children) are benefiting from the scheme. A further 720 cases are actively being progressed. In 2019, 196 families benefited from the scheme with a further 363 families benefiting in 2020. In 2021, the number had increased to 678.

 

Further information on the scheme is available from: www.mortgagetorent.ie

The most recent Mortgage to Rent Statistics can be accessed here

The review of the MTR is available at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/ed57b-2021-review-of-the-mortgage-to-rent-scheme-for-borrowers-of-commercial-private-lending-institutions/

 

Notes for Editors

 

MTR scheme

  • The MTR Scheme for borrowers of private commercial lending institutions was developed as part of the implementation of the recommendations of the Keane Report on Mortgage Arrears in 2011. It is one part of a concerted effort across the whole of Government to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis.
  • MTR targets the most acute mortgage arrears cases where a situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in the householder’s circumstances in the foreseeable future. The scheme’s concept is that a household with an unsustainable mortgage goes from being a homeowner to being a social housing tenant. The borrower surrenders their property to their lender who sells it to a MTR provider which can be either an AHB or since 2018 a private company. The AHB or local authority (in the case where the property is sold to a private company) becomes the landlord and the tenant remains in the property paying a differential rent to the landlord based on his or her income. 

 

Key changes to the MTR scheme:

The key changes to the scheme that will apply from 14 February 2022 are:

  • The scheme is to be amended to allow flexibility where the household concerned has more than two spare bedrooms in the following circumstances:
    • the borrower or one of the joint borrowers is aged 65 and over
    • the borrower, one of the joint borrowers or one of the borrower’s dependents has a disability and the property has been significantly and permanently adapted to their needs*
    • the borrower, one of the joint borrowers or one of the borrower’s dependents has a disability and the property is specifically suitable to their need without adaptations*

*The household must also qualify for Social Housing Support on Disability, Medical or Compassionate grounds in line with the local authority’s allocation policy.

  • The current purchase price thresholds were last reviewed and updated in July 2019. Taking account of current market conditions and the recent research by the Central Bank, the thresholds have now been reviewed and are included in the table below. The price thresholds are divided into two categories: (i) Higher Threshold Areas (Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow) and (ii) Normal Threshold Areas (the rest of the country). It is important to note that these are thresholds for eligibility to the scheme but actual acquisition costs are agreed between the lender and MTR provider and cannot exceed these limits. The Department will keep these limits under review.

Property Type

Higher Threshold Area

(Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Wicklow)

Normal Threshold Area

(Rest of Country)

House

€450,000 (up 14% from July 2019 limit of €395,000)

€345,000 (up 13% from July 2019 limit of €305k)

Apartment / Townhouse

€335,000 (up 8% from July 2019 limit)

€230,000 (up 4.5% from July 2019 limit of €220,000)

 

 

  • New positive equity limits will be introduced. These are differentiated across three regions of the country. Currently, a positive equity limit of 10% of the Open Market Value, up to a maximum of €15,000, is allowed. This limit applies nationally and does not take into account the location of the property.  A new regional approach that takes into account the location of the property will now apply as follows:

 

Band

Local Authority areas

Allowable Positive Equity

Band 1

Cork City, Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal, Galway City, Meath, South Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow

€35,000

Band 2

Cork County, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick City and County, Louth, Wexford, Waterford City and County

€30,000

Band 3

Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Donegal, Galway County, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Westmeath

€25,000

 

MTR and additional scheme information

  • As the households applying for MTR will have been in a position of financial hardship, possibly for a number of years, prior to applying for the scheme they may not have had the means to carry out necessary repairs to the property. MTR providers, both AHB and non-AHB, are obliged to undertake the necessary remedial or refurbishment works to bring the properties that they acquire under the scheme up to statutory private rental standards.
  • The household must be eligible for social housing and the property must meet the appropriate standards for social housing. Householders are able to buy back the property after a period of 5 years or earlier with the agreement of the AHB or the private company concerned. 

 

Review of existing Scheme

  • The Programme for Government and Housing for All committed to strengthening the MTR scheme and ensuring that it is helping those who need it.
  • Building on the significant amendments already made to the scheme in 2017, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage conducted a review and examined the impact of these changes and what further amendments would benefit those in need of the scheme.
  • This review concluded that the implementation of the 2017 Review actions has enabled the scheme to begin operating at scale and this is clearly evidenced by the increasing numbers of both MTR applications and successfully completed cases. While the scheme is performing well, the Department determined that some further enhancements are required to allow more households, who are in need of State support with their long-term housing needs, avail of this scheme.
  • Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030 states: Strengthen the Mortgage to Rent (MTR) Scheme to ensure it supports those who need it (Q4 2021)