Government must act on Shared Ownership repossessions

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to deal with the crisis in Shared Ownership mortgages. He spoke during a Dáil debate, called by the deputy, to discuss “a growing problem which will not just go away”

Deputy Ellis continued:

“By September there will likely be 70 shared ownership homes repossessed. About half of these have been surrendered, others engaged with the Council to attempt to solve the problem, but still lost their home.

With 30% of Shared Ownerships in 90 or more days of arrears and approximately 1,400 schemes in Dublin City Council area, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are 29 cases coming up that a Dublin City Council source has told me are people who are unable to pay and so will lose their homes. There are three repossessions happening in the Finglas this week. People are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on their payments which as part of the deal go up every year. The rent paid to the Council goes up by 4% every year.

This is a problem created by government policy and it must be solved by government intervention. The state failed to deliver enough houses for people who had a housing need as determined by the Local Authorities.

It failed because it did not believe it had a responsibility to provide housing. It was wrong to believe this and the consequence is evident now with desperate people, who needed a home, left in mire of unviable debt and negative equity.

I ask the minister to do something to help ease this problem, to meet with local councils and to encourage a process of engagement with the residents which will recognise when debt is unviable and begin a resolution process.

It should also be the case that those who give up the shared ownership should be allowed to go on the waiting list for housing again and not treated as voluntarily homeless. In many cases it would be appropriate for these people to be housed as tenants in the home they have surrendered and this must be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The Keane report does not do anything for Shared Ownership. The Minister needs to step up to this growing crisis and put a strategy in place to help those in trouble who only sought to put a roof over their heads. They were failed by the previous government who denied them sustainable housing and destroyed the economy. We cannot see this failure repeated.”