New developments in Irish housing rights
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Kenna, P. (2010). New developments in Irish housing rights. Paper presented at the European Consensus Conference on Homelessness, Brussels, 9-10 December 2010.
Housing rights in Ireland remain very much underdeveloped, while the State suffers from a major property price hangover. While housing production boomed in the new century, waiting lists for social housing have grown over the decade with the category where access was blocked through affordability problems increasing to over half of those included. The State promoted home ownership and market provided housing for the past three decades, with the result that market values have pervaded all aspects of housing, including a redefinition of social housing. Housing market rescue measures and support for failed financial institutions have press-ganged social housing in Ireland to mop up the oversupply of houses built and repay the large developer loans through recycling State guaranteed rents to poor tenants. Indeed, a new scheme, known as 'incremental ownership' promotes a new subsidised home ownership arrangement for what would have previously been rented accommodation. While, the practice of sub-prime lending to those with non-traditional working arrangments or low incomes was not prevalent in Ireland, in many ways the State is now acting as the ultimate sub-prime, encouraging those in need of social rented housing into home ownership. Significant numbers of homeowners who purchased their homes in the past three years are now in negative equity, and for those who become unemployed, the risk of losing their homes are very real. However, a number of developments have taken place which indirectly impact on housing rights in relation to public sector tenants, new forms of social housing and increased protection for private tenants and borrowers of home loans.