The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins signed the Affordable Housing Act and the Land Development Agency Act into law on 21 July 2021.

These two Acts mark a significant step in attempts to deal with the Irish housing crisis.

Affordable Housing Act 2021

The purpose of this Act is to provide the legislative and policy framework for new schemes aimed at making housing for purchase and rent more affordable for eligible households. These include:

  • an Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme for the delivery of homes by private developers - where the State will take an equity share in the property through a special purpose vehicle (SPV). Details of how this will work will be set out in an agreement between the Minister for Housing and the SPV and
  • a new form of cost rental tenure - The tenant will pay rent that reflects the cost of providing managing, and maintaining the property only, which should result in lower than market rent. Cost rental homes are aimed at those who are not eligible for, or don't wish to avail of social housing and will be covered by the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2020.

Land Development Agency Act 2021

This Act gives a statutory remit to the Land Development Agency (LDA), which was first established by statutory instrument in 2018. The Act sets out the functions and structure of the LDA, which will be established as a designated activity company (DAC). The LDA will be able to borrow money for the purposes of undertaking its functions will also be eligible for Government grants.

The LDA will be obliged to establish a Register of Relevant Public Land to identify land in urban population centres over 10,000 that can be made available for housing. The LDA will be required to report to the Government in relation to public land in the Register, which could be suitable for housing or urban development and the Government may decide that certain land be transferred to the Agency for such purposes.

Local Authorities wishing to dispose of land must give the LDA first refusal to acquire the land at market value. The LDA will also be empowered to acquire land by compulsory purchase, in certain circumstances.

Aside from the provision of social housing, at least 50% (80% in large urban areas) of any housing provided on relevant public land must be made available for cost rental or affordable housing by the LDA or any other party which acquires such land.

Comment

These two Acts have been long awaited by all stakeholders involved in delivery of housing and together have the potential to make a substantially positive impact on the housing crisis in Ireland. In particular, the cost rental scheme could be a game-changer for those who cannot afford to buy their own homes but do not qualify for social housing, giving them long-term housing security as is available in in other European countries.

On the back of these Acts, Beauchamps looks forward to implementation of the legislation with our housing clients and to the publication of the "Housing for All" plan, which will be a successor to Rebuilding Ireland and is now due to be published at the end of the summer by Minster Darragh O'Brien.