Income limits for cost-rental scheme may be raised to include households earning over €100,000

Government scrambles to address the rental crisis as RTB figures show 4,741 notices of termination were served in third quarter of 2022

Eviction ban DOB

Households earning well in excess of €100,000 a year will be eligible for cost-rental schemes under reforms being considered as the Government scrambles to address the rental crisis.

With new figures released by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) showing 4,741 notices of termination were served in the third quarter last year, the Coalition is considering raising income limits for cost rental, alongside other measures announced earlier this week when it decided to end the eviction ban at the end of this month.

Cost rental is aimed at people who earn above the limits for social housing but struggle to pay market rents. Under the cost rental scheme, the rent paid is based on the cost of building, managing and maintaining the homes. It does not include any profit for a developer and must be at least 25 per cent below regular market rents in an area. Once launched, existing schemes have been oversubscribed.

Current limits exclude households with an after-tax income of more than €53,000 annually. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is expected to create a second category, where households can have an after-tax income of €75,000-€80,000 – equating to a pre-tax income well above €100,000.


Expanding cost-rental and State-backed tenancies is a significant part of the Government’s effort to address the rental crisis, including for tenants who do not qualify for subsidies.

However, changing the income limits is unlikely to directly address the needs of those facing homelessness due to the end of the eviction ban. The Government is facing a barrage of criticism for both its decision to end the ban, and accusations it didn’t have mitigating policies ready to go.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the evictions figure was “staggering” and they suggested 10,000 people were facing homelessness. Sinn Féin will increase the pressure on Government backbenchers with a Dáil motion on the issue when the Oireachtas reconvenes after the St Patrick’s Day break.

Mr Ó Broin said any TD who thought it was “acceptable to put this number of families, this number of human beings, children, adults and pensioners at risk of homelessness… I have to say I don’t think has a conscience at all”.

With senior sources adamant there will be no reversal, work is under way on so-called “first refusal” legislation. Drafts of the new rules suggest tenants would have to indicate they want to make an offer on their home within 14 days of their landlord announcing it is being sold. If the offer is rejected and the landlord later achieves a lower price, they will have to offer it to their tenant again. The legislation is expected after Easter.

If the tenant cannot afford it, a “backstop” will kick in, with an approved housing body or local authority purchasing the home and the resident becoming a cost-rental tenant. This would not need legislation, but it is unclear exactly how the new backstop will interact with new, higher income limits for the cost-rental scheme, as it has been indicated that those availing of it will also have to be at risk of homelessness.

A circular sent to local authorities last week by the Department of Housing outlined that RTB data “indicates a large number of landlords intend to leave the market, with a large proportion of the notices of termination issued due to the landlord’s intention to leave the market”.

Dublin’s four local authorities will be asked to provide 785 of 1,500 extra social housing purchases approved by Cabinet last week. Priority is to be given to buying homes where tenants are in receipt of rent subsidies and have been given a notice to quit.

The Government is working on tax proposals for landlords in the next budget, including a possible capital gains tax exemption for landlords who sell to approved housing bodies or the State.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times