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Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Damien English welcome Home For Life as a new and important participant in the Mortgage to Rent Scheme

Published on Wednesday, 04 Jul 2018
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Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, T.D.  and Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Urban Development, Damien English, T.D., today (4th July) welcomed Home For Life Ltd. as a new participant in the Mortgage to Rent [MTR] scheme, where they will work in tandem with local authorities as landlords providing a long term solution for those in mortgage distress.  Today’s announcement coincides with the launch by the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government and the Housing Agency of a dedicated mortgage to rent website, www.mortgagetorent.ie to boost awareness of the scheme.

The inclusion of Home For Life follows a public process, led by the Housing Agency, seeking suitably qualified parties in the private sector interested in entering into long term lease arrangements with local authorities for the provision of accommodation to MTR eligible households.

Under this model, Home For Life will acquire properties from lenders subsequent to their voluntary surrender by eligible borrowers who are in mortgage arrears, and who require longterm State assistance in meeting their housing needs. Borrowers simultaneously enter into a tenancy arrangement with their local authority enabling the borrower to remain living in their home as a social housing tenant paying an affordable rent to their local authority.

Speaking earlier today, Minister English said,

“I’d like to congratulate Home For Life for taking this initiative and participating in the MTR scheme. This new approach to Mortgage to Rent is a significant step towards enabling the scheme to operate at scale to meet the needs of more borrowers in mortgage distress. Subject to successful delivery of an initial tranche of cases by Home For Life, I am more than happy to see Home For Life proceed to implement the scheme and assist a far greater number of MTR cases using this alternatively funded long-term lease model with local authorities”.

Speaking of the Government’s commitment to supporting those in long term mortgage arrears, he reiterated the determination to address mortgage arrears to support households to remain in their homes and avoid additional pressures on the rental or social housing sectors. While the number of borrowers in long term mortgage arrears is declining, the Minister referred to his particular concern that there are borrowers in long term mortgage arrears of more than two years who are not engaging with the available State supports. In this regard Minister English noted that,

“The MTR scheme is a real option for borrowers with unsustainable mortgages who are eligible for social housing and who cannot meet their own housing needs without the State supporting them.  MTR represents a good solution to what is a complex problem”.

To increase borrowers’ awareness and understanding of MTR a new dedicated mortgage to rent website, www.mortgagetorent.ie, has been developed by the Department together with the Housing Agency with input from the Abhaile Service and the Insolvency Service of Ireland. The website complements other improvements that have been made to the MTR scheme following a review of the scheme in February 2017.

The website provides clear, user-friendly information on the MTR scheme specifically directed at borrowers.  It can be used as a single reference tool for borrowers to ascertain if they are eligible for the scheme and how to apply for the scheme.  The website also highlights the State supports available to borrowers to find a solution to home mortgage arrears including the key roles being played by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the Abhaile Service and the Insolvency.

Welcoming the new website, Minister Murphy said,

“the Government’s message is clear.  Help is available to borrowers with distressed mortgages at risk of losing their homes.  Borrower engagement is, however, critical and I would urge borrowers to access the new MTR website to aid their awareness of and understanding of the scheme and to find out how to take the next step”.

Note to editors:

Background to the participation of Home for Life Ltd. in the operation of Mortgage to Rent

Mortgage to Rent is a Government scheme established in 2012 that assists borrowers who are in mortgage arrears to stay in their home.  Eligible households must:

  • have had their mortgage position deemed unsustainable under a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (as provided for under the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears) by their lender;
  • agree to the voluntary surrender of their home to their lender;
  • not have significant positive equity in the property; and
  • be eligible for social housing.

Under the scheme, a household with mortgage arrears goes from being a homeowner to becoming a social housing tenant. They voluntarily surrender their property to their lender who in turn sell the property to an Approved Housing Body (AHB).   The household gets to remain in the family home as social housing tenants and pays a rent in line with their means.

A review of the MTR scheme in 2017 taking account of capacity within the AHB sector recommended that alternative funding options, including the off-balance sheet potential private institutional investment, be explored in order to allow the MTR scheme to deliver at scale.  An Expressions of Interest Request issued in 2017 inviting parties from the private sector to express their interest in participating in a new alternatively funded long-term MTR lease model.

The new approach to MTR pilot that Home for Life Ltd. are participating in comprises:

  • an eligible borrower(s) with an unsustainable mortgage voluntarily surrendering their property to their lender,
  • their lender selling the property to Home for Life Ltd.,
  • Home for Life Ltd. then leasing that property to the local authority on a long-term basis thus enabling the borrower(s) to remain in the property as a social housing tenant(s) paying an agreed rent,
  • the local authority becoming the landlord to the tenant(s), and
  • Home for Life Ltd. providing the ancillary management and maintenance services for the property.

It is expected that Home for Life Ltd. will deliver a minimum 50 cases under this alternatively funded long-term MTR model in 2018. The Department is fully committed to supporting Home for Life Ltd. to proceed to complete a far greater number of cases, and together with the Housing Agency, will be liaising closely with HFL in that regard over the coming months.

In all scenarios, the Department and the Housing Agency are focussed on meeting the long-term housing needs of the greatest number of households in unsustainable mortgage arrears.

Review of the Mortgage to Rent (MTR) Scheme 2017

The Review of the Mortgage to Rent (MTR) Scheme, published on 8 February 2017, introduced a range of amendments to the eligibility criteria and administration of the MTR scheme. The Review, available at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/changes-in-mortgage-to-rent-scheme/, explored the impediments to participation in the scheme and recommended a number of actions to make the scheme work better for borrowers.

The Department of Housing and the Housing Agency are working with all stakeholders to ensure that the actions set out in the Review are being effectively implemented to benefit a greater number of households.

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