In an effort to address the housing crisis, the Irish government has decided to allow council tenants to rent out rooms in their homes for up to €14,000 a year tax-free, according to an article by Gabija Gataveckaite in the Irish Independent. This move is expected to add the equivalent of 28,000 homes across the country.
As Ms Gataveckaite reports, the current Rent-a-Room scheme, which permits property owners to rent out rooms in their houses and apartments tax-free, will now be extended to local authority council homes. This will enable council tenants to rent out their spare bedrooms, as the rental market continues to shrink due to increasing numbers of landlords selling up.
Gabija Gataveckaite writes that the Department of Housing estimates there are between 14,000 and 28,000 “under-occupied” council homes among the 140,000 council homes in the country. These under-occupied homes have empty bedrooms that could potentially be rented out. The government aims to incentivize residents to participate in the Rent-a-Room scheme by ensuring they will not be penalised for doing so.
In collaboration with the County and City Management Association (CCMA), the Department of Housing is working to make necessary changes in tenancy agreements between tenants and the council, Ms Gataveckaite reports. However, the rooms being rented out must still be the main homes of the council tenants leasing them out.
The Irish Independent article also notes that social welfare recipients and medical card holders can already participate in the Rent-a-Room scheme without it affecting their benefits. The government expects to have the necessary administrative changes in place during the summer, with no new laws required.
According to the article, this initiative is part of a larger €1bn housing mini-budget that ministers signed off last week. This package includes measures such as increased grants for vacant and derelict homes, waiving of infrastructure fees, and support for cost rental apartment developers. The government hopes these efforts will expedite the delivery of housing and help meet, if not exceed, annual housing targets.