Divorced people will be given a second chance at home ownership after a relationship breakup as part of measures designed to recognize how ‘Ireland has changed’.
Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said housing designed just for nuclear families does not match “the reality of the world we live in”.
New proposals will treat divorced and separated people, who no longer have a stake in the family home, as first-time buyers in certain cases.
Mr O’Brien was speaking as Ireland will this weekend mark the 25th anniversary of the legalization of divorce, following a stormy 1995 referendum to lift the constitutional ban on the dissolution of marriages.
Divorced and separated people, after moving out of the family home, can often struggle to raise the 20pc deposit required as a second buyer while paying high rents.
People who end their marriage later in life may also find it difficult to be considered for a mortgage.
Under new plans, due to come into effect from April, divorced or separated people will be eligible for state-guaranteed loan schemes.
It is believed to be the first time that Irish government housing policy has made specific reference to divorced and separated people.
Mr. O’Brien told the Irish Independent“Housing has traditionally been viewed through a nuclear family type lens and that’s just not the reality of the world we live in.”
Family lawyers and those advising people in divorce cases have said that the family home can often become the most contentious part of a legal separation due to the current housing crisis.
The fear that the person who first left home during a separation may never return can increase tensions as relationships end.
In many cases, the family home can be sold in a divorce because neither partner is able to pay the mortgage.
Until now, divorced or separated people have not been explicitly included in housing programs designed to help first-time buyers move up the housing ladder, although it is understood that discretion has been used in certain cases.
From now on, the government will include divorced and separated people among those eligible for schemes such as the Local Authority-run Affordable Buyer Scheme or the First Home Ownership Sharing Scheme.
Mr. O’Brien said that when he was in opposition and since becoming housing minister, he had “listened to people in my own constituency and elsewhere who talked about being excluded from certain programs or initiatives”.
“These were people whose marriages had broken down and who no longer had a stake in the family home, but when it came to housing, they were not considered in the same way as first-time buyers,” he said. -he declares.
“That’s why it was important to me that a ‘fresh start’ principle be included in our Housing for All plan, which means that people who are divorced or separated and have no interest in the family home will be eligible. state-supported programs such as the Local Authority-led Affordable Purchase Scheme or the First Home Shared Equity Scheme.
“The changes we have made to local authority mortgage lending make it easier for single people to qualify for a state-backed mortgage for a new, used or self-built home – the fresh start principle also applies here.
“So we realize that Ireland has changed over the last few decades and people’s housing needs have evolved and we are addressing that.”
The programs were included in the government’s Housing for All plan announced last year. Under the First Home Shared Equity Scheme, the state would pay up to 30% of the cost of a newly built home in exchange for a stake in the property.
The new owners would take out a mortgage for the remainder of the cost.
After the announcement of the program, the Central Bank raised concerns about the possibility of pushing up property prices.
Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf said it would be “wait and see” what effect the program would have on prices.
The scheme is expected to come into effect in the second quarter of this year.
The Local Authority-run Affordable Buyer Scheme is designed to reduce the cost of a new home for people on low to moderate incomes.
New homes are being built in areas where demand and prices are high.
Like the First Home Shared Equity Scheme, the scheme would involve local authorities with a stake in homes to help bring down the price.
While this program was expected to be available from the end of last year, it is understood that properties will begin to come into use shortly.
Local authorities will accept applications if and when the plots are ready.