Laois County Council helped save ten homes from being repossessed in 2015 under the Mortgage to Rent Scheme.
At the recent council meeting in Laois County Hall, the annual financial statement for the year ending December 31, 2015 showed that there was a closing debit balance of €4,705,916.
Included the debit balance at the end of 2015 was an amount of €988,571, which related to houses brought into the Mortgage to Rent Scheme.
Speaking to the Leinster Express after the meeting, director of services, Mr Gerry Murphy revealed that this figure of just shy of €1m related to ten properties which Laois County Council helped save last year.
“It’s a Government initiative to help homeowners who are at risk of losing their home,” he said.
“If you have a loan from the council on your house and you get into difficulty with the mortgage, the option is there for you to end up renting.”
The figure of €988,571 consisted of loans that were given out by the council last year for people to buy their homes.
Some ten parties subsequently fell into financial difficulty and as they were unable to meet their mortgage repayments, the council stepped in and took over, with the occupiers now renting from the council instead of owning the properties.
Mr Murphy said that the scheme is still in the very early stages, but so far ten homes have been saved in Laois.
The issue of housing was high on the agenda at the recent council meeting, with the importance of land banks being discussed and the need for more houses highlighted.
Mr Murphy disclosed at the meeting that Laois County Council has land across the county, particularly in places like Rathdowney, Portarlington and Stradbally, and said that the council is well on the way to meeting the set target of providing 158 houses by 2017.
He said that the acquisition of houses had been “frontloaded” last year, with 35 acquired in 2015 instead of 12 a year up to 2017.
The housing group Respond! also has a planning application in for 39 new units, he said.
“We are in the market in Laois County Council,” said Mr Murphy, adding that the council is looking at derelict sites around the county.
“The housing situation is chaotic at the moment,” said Cllr John Joe Fennelly, “land banks should be part of the plan.”
He said there were lots of area where the council did not have land banks and some people were paying hefty rents. He also said that some people were unable to get their children into the schools they wanted because the lack of available housing.
“We need more housing developments in all areas,” said Cllr Mary Sweeney, adding that vacant affordable sites should be part of the policy.
She said that people haven’t been buying up the affordable sites, and suggested that perhaps the council could convert them into social housing.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said that housing for single people should also be provided, as there were a lot of single people on the waiting list.