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Government policy preventing Laois County Council from purchasing private houses

Laois County Council General

Government policy is preventing Laois County Council from purchasing private houses in the majority of cases.

So a meeting of the County Council in the chamber heard recently.

The issue was initially raised by Fine Gael Councillor Willie Aird who asked why the Council weren’t purchasing more homes.

He explained how renters were routinely being issued with notices to quit as landlords were seeking to exit the rental market.

Many of these houses were being rented by Laois people who were doing so under different schemes such as HAP.

This is where a portion of their rent is covered under a scheme and the tenants then pay the rest.

Cllr Aird outlined a number of such homes that were now up for sale and asked why the Council weren’t trying to bid for them.

If they purchased them, he said, then tenants could remain and simply rent the properties from the council.

It was at this point that Sinn Fein’s Caroline Dwane-Stanley, chairperson of the Housing SBC, interjected.

She said: “This is government policy, the Department of Housing is preventing the Council from going into the market.

“So this is not a Laois County Council issue, this is a government plan.”

Georgina Ireland and Angela McEvoy, both from the Housing Department in Laois County Council, confirmed that this was the case.

Ms Ireland said: “In order to purchase a house from the private market, there has to be a very specific set of circumstances.

“We have to be able to prove that we need this house for a specific need – a person that has a specific disability that this house caters for for example.

“This was brought in so that the Councils would not be in the market – not competing with first time buyers and inflating the market.”

Fine Gael Councillor Willie Aird said that there seemed to be some confusion between what Councillors are being told by the Department of Housing and what the Council are being told.

Laois County Council are to write to the Department of Housing to seek clarification on the position.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.