Buying homes of tenants whose rent is subsidised by State would cost ‘many billions’, Dáil committee told

Department of Housing secretary general separately tells TDs he has not sought a pay increase

It would cost “many billions” to purchase the homes of tenants in the private rental market who are being supported by the State to pay their rent, the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been told.

Department of Housing secretary general Graham Doyle said ownership of the homes would be preferable but it has not been possible to do due to the cost.

He made the remarks when asked by Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe if there was a value for money case for using the tenant-in-situ scheme to buy the homes of people whose rent is subsidised but who are not facing eviction.

Mr McAuiliffe said the tenant-in-situ scheme is “transformative”. Buying the homes of these tenants “wouldn’t add to supply, and it doesn’t solve the housing crisis, but it would radically transform the security of those tenants.”


The Government wants local authorities to buy 1,500 homes this year from landlords who have given notice to tenants who are in receipt of State supports such as housing assistance payment (HAP) and the rental accommodation scheme (RAS)

It is one of the measures the Coalition hopes will mitigate the impact of lifting the temporary ban on no-fault evictions.

Dublin North-West TD Mr McAuliffe asked Mr Doyle if the funds are available to continue the scheme beyond the original 1,500 properties and whether consideration has been given to expanding it beyond people facing eviction.

Mr Doyle said the 1,500 purchases will definitely be reached and his Department has already flagged that they may extend the scheme. “If we need more money for that we will be able to get our hands on that,” he said.

On Mr McAuliffe’s suggestion about extending the scheme beyond those facing eviction Mr Doyle said: “From a value for money perspective we would prefer to own homes. However, if you were to capitalise all of those homes you’re talking many, many, many billions. That just hasn’t been possible to do.”

Mr Doyle said there could be “unintended consequences” and he would not like to offer a “policy answer”.

He told Mr McAuliffe “we’ll certainly reflect on what you’ve said”.

Separately, Mr Doyle was asked about his salary in the wake of a media report in January that there is a dispute over his pay.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked Mr Doyle if the issue is resolved. Mr Doyle “There is a matter that has been under discussion” and “it hasn’t been concluded”. He said it is an issue that the Department of Public Expenditure has responsibility for.

An official from that Department told the PAC that there is an independent review panel on senior public service recruitment pay processes and the “terms and conditions for recruitment and pay determination”.

The PAC was told the review is not specific to one person and the panel’s report is expected to go to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

Fianna Fáil TD James O’Connor asked Mr Doyle what his current salary is and if he had sought a pay increase.

Mr Doyle said his salary is “€241,000 or something very close to that” and that he did not seek a pay increase.

He added: “This is an issue about the grade of a position and again it wasn’t something I’d actually sought. I can’t get drawn into the detail of an individual HR matter.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times